Dogs display Lyme disease symptoms similar to humans when infected but these are more difficult to spot in many cases as the dog cannot communicate pain, fever, chills, or neurological symptoms as effectively as we can. A dog’s fur is also more likely to obscure initial signs of localized infection such as the characteristic bull’s eye Lyme disease rash, erythema migrans.
Ticks are also more likely to remain in place on a dog’s skin that they are in humans due to their hidden presence in fur, so a thorough check is vital if the dog has spent time in an area known for ticks. As dogs are lower to the ground than us humans they are also at increased risk of exposure, especially as (most) dogs do not wear protective, light-colored clothing when rambling outdoors.
Lyme Disease Vaccination for Dogs
Vaccination for Lyme disease in dogs does appear to be effective however and it may also be helpful to humans. The reason for this is that if an infected tick bites a vaccinated dog, the antibodies in the dog’s blood may actually cleanse the tick itself of the infection, thus making it less likely that any humans, or other dogs, in the house contract Lyme disease if bitten by this tick. Vaccinating dogs against Lyme disease is not, however, 100% effective and some veterinarians are concerned about possible over-vaccination of dogs. As such, vaccination may only be available in areas where Lyme disease is endemic. Lyme disease prevention is, therefore, a high priority and monitoring dogs for ticks after being outdoors, along with keeping a watchful eye on any suspicious symptoms of Lyme disease can help catch the disease early. Applying antibiotic treatment early for Lyme disease in dogs provides the best opportunity to eradicate the infection before it becomes disseminated and causes permanent damage such as lameness.
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