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Dog Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a condition that is becoming more and more prevalent in our area. It is a bacterial infection caused by the spirochete bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria is transmitted by the bite of a deer tick while it feeds. The diseased is so named because of the initial discovery in human beings that occurred in 1975 in Lyme, Connecticut.

What are the symptoms of Lyme in a dog?


The most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include fever, swollen, painful joints, and lethargy. Reluctance to move and recurrent lameness can occur. Less commonly, heart, kidney, and nervous system issues may be seen. Clinical illness in dogs usually occurs 2 to 5 months after a bite from an infected tick. Dogs do not usually develop the typical bull’s eye rash or the circular area of redness around the bite (erythema migrans) which is seen in people.

How do dogs get Lyme Disease?


The bacteria are carried by small mammals, especially mice. Ticks then feed on the mammals and carry the bacteria to dogs when they bite them. The deer tick is the most common tick involved in spreading the disease. Ticks capable of spreading Lyme disease are found throughout Nova Scotia. The ticks are active when the temperature is above 4 degrees Celsius.

What are the treatment options for Lyme Disease?


Treatment for Lyme disease consists of a usually 4-week long course of antibiotics. Most dogs start to feel better quickly once they start treatment. Lyme disease is not contagious from dogs to other dogs or to people.

How do I protect my dog from Lyme disease?


Protection from Lyme disease primarily consists of good tick control. Dog owners should be using appropriate tick preventative medication, doing frequent tick checks, as well as removing any ticks found promptly. Vaccines for Lyme diseases are available as well and can give added protection.

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