Lyme disease is a severe transmitted tick-borne disease that wreaks havoc in the canine world by causing inflammation of the dog’s joints leading to lameness, loss of appetite and low mood otherwise known as depression.
This disease is considered by vets has high up on the list of some of the most problematic and nasty diseases that can affect a dogs physical health and well-being.
The infection is caused by Borrelia Burgdorferi Bacterium.
Lyme disease is directly transmitted through the teeth or the bites of ticks that land on the skin of the animal which can include other animal’s not just dogs and humans as well.
The teeth or the fangs of the tick that causes the problem are infected and these ticks of the Ixodes species otherwise known as ‘deer ticks’ are believed to transmit the disease after they attach themselves to the skin under the fur for the sole purpose of feeding off the host by drilling into the surface of the dog skin and basically drinking the dogs blood.
Initially a tick is very small maybe the size of an Apple seed and as it drinks the blood from its host it grows in size to a big bubble filled with blood.
The teeth or fangs of the tick that hold it to the skin are so developed and penetrating that it is impossible to pull them off and doing so will tear the animal skin open.
It is believed that the tick needs to be on the dog by at lease two days for it to transmit Lyme disease therefore regular inspection of your dogs fur and skin is recommended in order to reduce the risk of infection.
A good rule of thumb is to try and avoid allowing your dog to enter into a long and deep grasses or undergrowth where they certainly will pick them up and that includes rolling in deep grasses such as in fields or parks. Try to keep your dog on flat open clear grounds where possible especially in areas known or recorded for cases of Lyme disease and its nasty little parasite that spreads the disease.
The problem with Lyme disease is it can take a few months for physical signs and symptoms to fully appear.
The symptoms to look out for are painful or sore joints which can be mistaken for arthritis by concerned dog owners.
Other signs to look out for are loss of appetite, possible fever or high-temperature and a loss of interest in exercise or in other words your dog is not jumping up with excitement to go out for walks when normally they are. This can be seen as excessive tiredness and unusual bouts of sleeping.
Other areas that can be damaged are long-term problems with kidneys, nervous system and the heart especially the dogs joints.
The frustrating thing about Lyme disease is symptoms can disappear and reappear.
Vets can easily run what is called SNAP blood tests for the Borrelia Burgdorferi organism.
All breeds of dogs are equally susceptible if exposed to infected ticks especially dogs which are used for hunting, tracking and working sheepdogs as these are at higher risk to the ticks landing on their body.
Treatments can be successful so it is not all doom and gloom but relapse is also common and a course of antibiotics and other medications is usually the first port of call in treating inflamed joints.
There are products on the market called Tick control treatments and regular and/or periodical testing by your vet if you’re concerned.
There is no sure way to protect dogs 100% therefore inspection and changing behaviour patterns is the best way to protect dogs from catching ticks by simply learning how the damn critters land on the dog’s body!
Being tick wise is a good starting point!
Regularly run your fingers tips through your dog’s fur across its skin to feel the tick.
Make no mistake; your fingertips will feel the tick immediately as a dome shaped protrusion on its skin just like firm blister and quite hard.
If you discover your dog has a tick you must remove it immediately and you won’t be able to pull it off as it has buried its fangs deep into its skins surface.
Applying a tick repellent or removal product which can be bought from any pet shop or from your local veterinary surgery is key.
Prevention is better than the cure so good clean regular healthy management and skin and fur inspection is essential to reduce the risk of this dreaded tick infection.
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