Lyme disease is a crippling, and sometimes fatal, disease that is spreading across North America. The bacteria that cause the disease are transmitted by deer ticks, western black-legged ticks, taiga ticks and sheep ticks. It is one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the world, and affects dogs as well as humans.
The problem, though, is that only 10% of affected canines actually show any symptoms and those indicators may not show up until the disease is well-established in their bodies. The following are some of the things to look out for in your dog if you inhabit or explore areas where ticks are found.
Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs
If your pooch has swollen lymph glands, or swelling at the site of a tick bite, suspect the possibility of Lyme disease.
Lameness can be caused by a myriad of problems, but typically a dog affected by Lyme disease will often show intermittent lameness rather than ongoing mobility issues. The lameness may also shift from leg to leg, or the dog will walk with stiff legs and an arched back. At other times, your dog may be perfectly sound and exhibit no movement problems.
While your dog may not actually be lame, he may have other mobility difficulties that indicate Lyme disease. If he suddenly has trouble rising from a recumbent position, can’t manage to hoist himself on to a favourite piece of furniture, or is unable to navigate stairs that he has previously been fine with, Lyme disease may be the problem.
Lethargy and Weakness
Sometimes Lyme disease manifests as lethargy and weakness. This may combine with other symptoms to tip you off, but in many cases it’s just a matter of your dog feeling a little ‘off.’ However, if this persists for more than a day or two a visit to your vet is in order.
Like us, if a dog is in pain or not feeling well he may become depressed, and that can lead to lack of appetite. If your canine pal isn’t his usual cheerful self and he stops eating, this could be a symptom of Lyme disease.
Dogs suffering with Lyme disease may exhibit inflammation and warmth in joints and limbs. They may be very tender to the touch. This aspect of Lyme disease, however, may take weeks or months to manifest itself after the initial infection.
Fever can be an indicator of a myriad of health issues in your dog, but fever brought on by Lyme disease can be confusing. It can be a low grade fever that gradually builds up to an increase in body temperature. Or fevers brought on by Lyme disease can be inconsistent. It’s best to keep a close eye on your dog and monitor his temperature over a longer period, even if it appears to be normal at times.
Digestive & Kidney Issues
Problems with the digestive tract can be caused by any number of things, however nausea and/or vomiting can also be symptoms of Lyme disease. If your dog is drinking excessive amounts of water, has diarrhea, urinates excessively, has a bloated abdomen or fluid retention, this could be a sign of kidney failure brought on by Lyme disease. Only a visit to your vet will be able to confirm such a diagnosis
If your dog is normally fit and has no problem with breathing, a sudden change in his capacity could point to Lyme disease.
Clearly, Lyme disease is not easy to diagnose, for a host of reasons. Variable indicators plus the late onset of those symptoms can pose a real problem. It’s worth knowing, however, that most pets will not become infected unless the offending tick has been attached to them for at least 18 hours.
If you are in a tick-prone area make it a practise to thoroughly examine your dog on a daily basis and remove ticks. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
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