Lyme disease is familiar to people as a tick-borne illness that starts with a ringed rash and can lead to a complicated and painful infection. Because it starts with the telltale rash, it is often caught early in people and does not progress. In dogs, though, pet owners should watch for very different signals of Lyme disease. These symptoms include:
- Lethargy and depression
- Limping or lameness
- Inflammation in the joints
If the infection progresses it will ultimately lead to organ damage and even death.
Here in North Carolina, we are thankfully not in one of the areas of highest concentration for this disease. The Northeast and Upper Midwest both have much worse outbreaks of Lyme disease, but that doesn’t mean we should get complacent.
Because the cause is from ticks, mostly the blacklegged tick (also known as the deer tick), prevention focuses on stopping these ticks from landing on your furry friend. Deer ticks are found in the woods, tall grass, and in marshes. As the name suggests, they are often on deer and other woodland animals. They can only crawl, so they wait at the end of leaves and blades of grass for someone or something to pass by. Whether it’s a deer, a dog, or a human, the tick will then cling on, and begin burrowing themselves into the skin.
The bite often goes undetected, so you should make sure to check yourself and your pets when you come in after some time outdoors. The tick will pass on the Lyme borreliosis bacteria which causes Lyme disease, but it will take over 24 hours before it can be fully transmitted into the bloodstream. This gives you a little time to find the offending bug and remove them.
But you can’t catch them all and sometimes a pet becomes infected. Treating people is actually a much more complicated process. Dogs have a better and more simple recovery, generally. After two or three days of taking the antibiotic, the dog is likely to be right back to their old selves again. This does not mean they can stop taking the antibiotic, though. Finish off the cycle as prescribed, and then they should be good to go.
Veterinarians have a couple tests they can do to determine if your pet is infected, so if you suspect Lyme disease, bring your animal by Dogwood Vet or another Chapel Hill are clinic immediately. We can confirm the suspected diagnosis and treat it quickly before this painful disease advances.