Lyme Disease in Dogs
by Heather Anderson
Most pet owners don’t realize the connection between pets and tick borne diseases. “… Canines are considered to be sentinel indicators of Lyme disease risk for humans.” While Lyme positive canine cases are estimated at roughly 1 million a year, the CDC estimates that there are roughly 300,000 people infected with Lyme Disease every year. Yet, in a sample study, there was only a 2%-3% difference between positively infected dogs and their humans (lymedisease.org.) The disparity between positive canine and human infections is proof of how much there’s still to do to help spread awareness of Lyme disease, as well as to find an accurate treatment for both humans and our furry friends.
Lyme Symptoms in Dogs
Lyme disease in dogs is just as dangerous as it is in humans. “Ticks can also transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, all of which can cause serious complications and are potentially fatal without prompt and proper treatment.” (https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/ticks-lyme-disease-dogs#1.)
These are just a few of the symptoms a dog may experience:
*Lethargy *Bulls-eye rash
*Paralysis *Organ problems
*Changes in Behavior *Skin Irritations
like Aggression or Anxiety
Sometimes symptoms can be difficult to recognize so make sure you get your dog regularly by a veterinarian who is Lyme literate.
There are many products on the market that help prevent fleas and ticks. Make sure whichever product you choose for your pet covers both fleas and ticks, as sometimes they only protect against fleas. If you’re unsure, be sure to consult with your veterinarian.
There is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs, however it is not necessarily recommended for all dogs and its effectiveness is debated. Some reports of contraction of the disease or even death have been reported. Talk to your vet about your risk level and the appropriate measure to take to ensure your pet is properly protected.
While there are many doctors who are aware that Lyme disease exists, they often overlook the symptoms or don’t consider Lyme disease during the diagnostic stages because they believe that it is either not common to their area, or that it is difficult to contract and easy to treat. For the most part, veterinarians seem to have a better track record. They, at least, acknowledge Lyme disease and are aware of the symptoms, though the belief of it’s threat varies by region. Dogs often get diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease much faster and more affordably than their human counterparts. However, there are still vets who think as so many human doctors do, that Lyme is not a threat. While most dogs are easier to treat than humans, the testing for Lyme disease in dogs and humans is still flawed. Much more work needs to be done for animals and humans alike to ensure the prevention, detection, and treatment of tick-born diseases are 100% successful.
Learn more about Tick Panels and what testing provides accurate results for dogs here under their Tick Panels for Dummies page. http://www.illinoisbirddogrescue.org/
All dogs, even urban dwelling dogs, are at risk. Be sure to do tick checks after every outdoor excursion. You can find out more about Lyme disease in dogs at https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/lyme-disease-dogs.