Canine Lyme disease is a serious dog illness caused due to an infection by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium is passed on to a dog through deer tick bites. For successful transmission of the bacteria, the tick has to remain on the dog's skin for at least 1-2 days. As per studies conducted, it is found that the bacterium is present in the tick's saliva, which is then passed into the dog's bloodstream during bites.
Some of the early symptoms in dogs are high fever, loss of appetite, swelling of the lymph nodes, inflammation of the joints, and limping (especially the foreleg). As the condition progresses, the symptoms may include lethargy, lameness, anorexia, and lack of body coordination. Very rarely, the infected pet may suffer from neurological disorders. Overall, it affects the dog's behavior and activities.
Treatment for Dogs
The diagnosis is done by performing blood tests. For confirmation, the vet may examine the physical symptoms, medical history, and the test results. If diagnosed in the early stages, this disease can be treated effectively. The treatment is essential in order to prevent severe health complications later on. Nevertheless, if the condition is left untreated, there may be permanent damage to the nerves, joints, heart, kidney, and other internal organs.
The conventional treatment options include antibiotics along with other medications for management of the symptoms. Effective treatment can be achieved only after administering the full antibiotic course for about three to four weeks. A vaccine is also available, which helps to prevent recurrent infections by the bacterium.
Vaccine for Dogs
Speaking of the vaccine, there are basically three types which are approved for use in dogs. They are effective in the prevention of this disease. However, similar to other therapeutic formulations, it is to be noted that these medical formulations do not guarantee disease prevention. The response of the dog towards the vaccine and the overall health of the pet contribute a lot to complete protection against the disease.
The usage of the vaccine is very controversial. The immunity period after vaccination is short-term. Some medical studies have revealed that after the dog is vaccinated, future bites by ticks that carry B. burgdorferi can lead to different symptoms. It is due to the fact that the bacteria undergo mutation after certain generations. Considering these complications, research is going on to formulate a vaccine for dogs that is effective in controlling the mutated bacteria.
The decision whether the vaccine should be used or not depends on one's own opinion. For safety purposes, consult a qualified vet regarding the pros and cons prior to administering it to your pet. The chances of Lyme disease infestations can be minimized by controlling the population of deer ticks. The dog owner can make use of safe insecticides that are effective in killing ticks, especially in and around the areas that the dog frequents. In addition, regular examination of the pet by a qualified veterinarian, and awareness of the symptoms help in reducing the risk of infections.