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Lyme Disease in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

With all the recent news press and attention, Lyme disease is getting worse today. Most folks know what it is in humans, but did you know it can also affect your dog? This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what Lyme disease is, how it will affect your pet, and what you can do to help your dog if they ever become infected with this disease.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Lyme Disease Defined

First, this disease is not limited to dogs, cats, or humans. This is why you should always be aware of ticks in the woods or hills, whether on you, your dog, or your cat! Heck, even horses and cattle might also suffer from this infection. This is because Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, carried in the saliva of the Ixodes species of tick.

Now, the good news is…

This tick must be attached for twelve hours before it can start to pump all that nasty bacteria into the blood, so as long as you get them quickly, there is a fair chance you won’t become infected. The problem is that this particular bacteria can cross through various animal species and, as such, is accountable for most tick-related diseases worldwide. Animals can be carriers of the disease without ever becoming sick, which makes isolating the condition much more complex and nearly impossible to eliminate.

Progression of the disease

When a human is bitten, clinical signs will likely be aches and pains, vomiting, and a rash. When a dog is ground, it is not so obvious. The symptoms of Lyme disease in dog include:

  • Aching joints and lethargy,

These are subtle symptoms that may not come on until weeks or even months after the infection begins. Plus, in many areas of the country where Lyme disease only occurs during the summer months, having your dog lie around a lot may not seem all that odd!

There are tests, however…

That will definitively tell you whether or not your dog has Lyme disease; it won’t tell you if they have it now, if they have recovered from it already, or if they have been exposed to the bacterium that causes it. In other words, the test for Lyme disease will not differentiate between suffering from or having been exposed to it, so starting treatment is the only option once the bacteria has been detected. The vet will test for Burgdorferi, the active ingredient in the blood that the deer and black-legged tick will leave behind.

When the Borrelia bacteria is detected…

In the lymph nodes, your dog will start to present symptoms. Your Veterinarian will diagnose Canine Lyme Disease should the bacterium be present. They may then be treated accordingly. Veterinary medicine maintains that the best way to avoid this disease is through tick control and limiting the dog’s exposure to infected and disease-causing bacteria. So, in this case, you can forget about fleas – ticks are the main reason you should always keep your pup’s coat protected with medicated shampoo, an anti-flea collar, or other measures such as medications applied directly to the back of the neck. Ticks are horrifying.

We also advise…

Against trying to “burn off” any ticks, you find or use any “homemade” tools to do the trick because you want to be sure to remove the tick with the head still attached; otherwise, you still run the risk of infection. Special tools can be purchased to do this. However, it’s best to visit your vet and have them walk you through the process (at least initially).

Most Commonly Affected Breeds

All dogs can be affected by Lyme Disease. Those particularly susceptible live, work, or walk in wooded areas, through the countryside, or on hills and mountains. This disease is limited to localities where deer ticks grow and is further limited by the weather and season. Beware of wooded areas in high summer and use a flea prevention method to avoid the dreaded Lyme Disease.

Treatment Options

First, there is a Lyme Disease Vaccine, so you should consider getting it should you live in woodlands. Infected dogs will become symptomatic, and your vet will want to examine them to gain a diagnosis.

If that diagnosis is…

Lyme Disease, they will typically start your pet on antibiotic treatment straight away. An infected dog cannot produce enough antibodies to deal with the infection, so your vet will want the antibiotics to support your pet’s immune system immediately. You must ensure your pet finishes the entire course.

The good news is that…

Treating this disease is not as costly as others, but your dog risks eventual paralysis if the condition is not detected. If you see any ticks on your dog, it is essential to take them to the bet – mainly if they are big ones that have potentially been there for longer than 12 hours.

Which brings us to…

We want to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them. This is why if you feel like your pet may have Lyme disease (or any other health issue), you will want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!

An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs! This is also why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not. But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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