Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month – April 2021

Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs is a focus within the month of April when a special accent is put on Lyme disease as we transition to Spring and Summer. Ticks that have been lying dormant in the grass everywhere are waking up to the warm temperatures.

lyme disease in dogs

April is a great time to start educating pet owners on how to protect their beloved pets from this disease.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a disease caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. The disease can be transmitted to humans, a zoonosis, and it is transmitted by the nymph stage of the black-legged tick Ixodes scapularis. Usually, not always, the infected tick must be attached to the dog for at least 24 hours for the infection to occur.

Even if a dog test positive for Lyme disease, it may not show any symptoms. If symptoms develop, you should look for signs of lameness in the legs, swollen joints, lethargy, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes. Usually, when clinical symptoms do develop, they develop 2-5 months after the tick bite. The disease cannot be transmitted from one dog to another, or from the dog to a human. The infection must come from a tick bite.

The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to put your dog on a strict, spot-on, tick control regimen, and always after walks in the park or places with tall grass to check the dog as thoroughly as you can. If you find a tick, never try to pluck it out with bare hands. Always use gloves and specialized tweezers for ticks. If you are not sure how to take the tick out, take the dog to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.

vet treating a dog for ticks

In some countries, there is a vaccine available that can protect your dog against Lyme disease. Ask your veterinarian about the occurrence of Lyme disease in your area, and if the vaccine is available and necessary.

Symptoms in Dogs With Lyme Disease

Dogs with Lyme disease will show certain clinical signs. They are listed below:

  • Joint discomfort and pain
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Inappetance
  • Stiff joints
  • Kidney disease
  • Neurological disease

These clinical signs can also be from other diseases. Therefore it’s important for your veterinarian to discuss a timeline to further diagnose Lyme Disease in dogs. A thorough history of your dogs’ lifestyle along with proper diagnostics will help determine the cause of your dog’s symptoms. 

lethargic dog

How do You Treat Lyme Disease in Dogs?

Treating Lyme Disease in dogs requires a 30-day round of antibiotics, usually in the tetracycline class. The use of antibiotics will help alleviate most symptoms, but often symptoms can persist or worsen. In these cases, the symptoms can be treated along with a long round of medication. 

If your dog develops long-term effects such as kidney disease, then your veterinarian will treat that as well. Treating kidney disease includes fluid therapy, supplements, and a special diet. Arthritis can also develop as a complication of Lyme Disease. To help slow the progression of arthritis, keep weight off your dog and give your dog joint supplements. 

Essential Oils for Lyme Disease in Dogs

Essential oils are in no way a standalone treatment or cure for Lyme Disease in dogs, but they can help aid in keeping your dog comfortable. Some essential oils help tick bite prevention, such as lavender oil, lemongrass oil, cedarwood oil, and eucalyptus oil. 

Certain essential oils can help with inflammation as well, which can help alleviate joint-related pain. These essential oils include eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, ginger, and lemongrass. 

Types of Antibiotics to Fight Lyme Disease

As stated above, Tetracycline class antibiotics are used to treat Lyme Disease. Specifically, Doxycycline. Doxycycline is the first round of antibiotics used, followed by amoxicillin and then azithromycin.  

How Can Lyme Disease in Dogs Be Prevented?

Prevention is key when it comes to Lyme Disease. To prevent transmission, you must be educated about ticks. Knowing where they live and what to do if your dog is bit by one. Ticks live in grassy areas and use the long blades to crawl onto. From the top of the blades, they “quest” or reach out with their front legs to grab and catch onto another animal. 

The best way to avoid transmission is using a monthly preventative. There are many safe and reliable ones on the market. Speak to your veterinarian about monthly preventatives that help prevent the transmission of Lyme disease.

Besides the number of preventatives that your veterinarian can prescribe to your dog. There is also a Lyme vaccine that can be administered annually to your dog if it suits your lifestyle. 

Avoiding tick-infested areas, such as high grass, is another way to prevent your dog from being bit by a tick. If you can’t avoid these types of areas, check your dog daily by investigating their hair coat for any ticks. If you find one, make sure to remove the entire tick or call your veterinarian to have it done for you. 

boxer dog lying in long grass

Summary

Lyme Disease in dogs is a very common disease. Thankfully it is caused by bacteria enabling the use of antibiotics. However, it often goes undetected until your dog is showing clinical signs. By this time, it makes the treatment harder. Make sure to use preventatives and keep up with your veterinarian visits. 

For more information on Lyme disease, we made an infographic a while back, so take a look by clicking here Lyme Disease Infographic

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