The bacterium borrelia burgdorferi that is responsible for this disease, is transmitted by the bite of a tick. It is said that out of all the species of ticks, only three species are known to transmit this disease. Research states that Lyme disease in dogs is transmitted through the bite of a deer tick or a black-legged tick. The symptoms usually occur within a period of two to five months after the first bite.
Signs and Symptoms
Limping (usually one fore leg) has been found to be one of the prominent symptoms. This is caused by the swelling of lymph nodes in the affected limb. This condition is termed as lymphadenopathy. Dogs also suffer from high fever and anorexia.
It causes swelling of the joints, and a sudden occurrence of lameness in dogs as they tend to become lethargic. The effect or pain is seen to shift from one leg to another. The legs aren't the only thing affected by the bacteria; the nervous system suffers as well. The dog may also experience myocarditis. This is a condition where the muscular tissue of the heart suffers inflammation. Glomerulonephritis - decreased production of urine in the body - is also observed. It is also clear by the presence of blood and protein in the urine. Glomerulonephritis is also characterized by swelling from excessive accumulation of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities. This is known as edema.
There is a gradual rise in the degree of discomfort in dogs due to the disease. From a mild joint and muscle pain, the disease affects the animal in such a way that it refrains it from any kind of movement. That is the reason we see most dogs being carried by their owners into a veterinary hospital.
The bacteria that triggers this condition may remain dormant in some canines for a certain period (for over a year in some cases). Then there will be a sudden outbreak of the symptoms. This is because of the fact that during the dormant period, the bacteria may have affected the dog's body in more than one way.
Since this disease is a bacterial infection, treatment involves use of antibiotics. The course of the treatment may vary in duration depending upon the severity of the disease. However, early diagnosis and treatment keeps matters from getting worse.