Could your dog have Lyme disease? If he spends any amount of time outdoors, he may be at risk for this infectious, potentially dangerous tick-borne disease. A simple tick bite could make your dog very sick.
Lyme disease (borreliosis) is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacteria called a spirochete that is transmitted by tick bites. In the Northeast and upper Midwest US, the common deer tick Ixodes scapularis is the primary carrier of B. burgdorferi. In the Western US, the tick Ixodes pacificus is the primary carrier.
First recognized in dogs in 1985, Lyme disease now exists in all 50 states. While Lyme disease is only endemic (consistently present) in a small portion of the United States, thousands of people and pets nationwide become infected with this dangerous disease annually.
The best way to help prevent tick-borne illness like Lyme disease is with consistent use of a monthly preventive such as K9 Advantix® II or a Seresto® Collar, which provides 8 months of uninterrupted flea and tick control. Also, thoroughly check your dog for ticks every time he returns from an outdoor excursion.
If, despite your best efforts, your dog becomes infected with Lyme disease, he will exhibit telltale symptoms. And sometimes, in the stress of the moment, you can forget to share all relevant information with your veterinarian. The following handy checklist can help ensure that you and your veterinarian address every pertinent point. Simply check the box beside the symptom if you have observed it in your dog. Please note, your dog will likely NOT show the bull's-eye-shaped skin rash humans frequently exhibit after being infected with Lyme Disease.
Check the symptoms your dog exhibits:
- A fever of 103-105°F
- Recurrent lameness or lameness that shifts between legs
- A stiff or abnormal gait
- Swelling, warmth, or pain in the joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sensitivity to your touch
- Lethargy or depression
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, abnormal fluid buildup, or increased urination or thirst - these symptoms may indicate serious kidney problems secondary to Lyme disease
Once you've completed the checklist, print it and take it to your veterinarian so you can discuss the results together. If your veterinarian diagnoses Lyme disease, it's likely that a simple course of antibiotics will help your dog feel much better. In the event your veterinarian decides to prescribe medication for your dog, you may wish to print our Prescription Authorization Form and bookmark the information on how to order a prescription at Drs. Foster and Smith's Licensed Pharmacy, where you can save on all of your dog's prescriptions.
Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your dog is currently taking, including aspirin or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as quellin or Rimadyl. Some medications or supplements may interact in potentially harmful ways; your veterinarian can make the best recommendation for your dog.