Lyme disease is a very common disease in the northeast. In endemic areas it has been estimated that 50-80% of dogs are exposed to the Lyme bacterium, however of those exposed only 5% show clinical signs for the disease. These clinical signs include off and on or persistent limping, lack of appetite, lethargy, fever or enlarged lymph nodes and in rare cases a deadly kidney disease. As mentioned Lyme disease is a tick-borne disease and requires an infected tick to be attached for an average of 24-48 hours in order to pass the infective bacteria to its host. Following this exposure, it takes approximately 2-3 weeks for testing to pick up the body’s response to the organism.
When looking into a potential Lyme infected dog it is important to rule out concurrent diseases. In Rufus’s case, an x-ray was performed to rule out other causes for limping in an older dog. Also, his blood was sent to a lab to confirm evidence of infection. The final test was a urine sample. As mentioned above the urine sample is very important to make sure that he didn’t or wasn’t in the process of developing the severe kidney disease which can result from Lyme.
Lyme disease is a treatable disease with the appropriate medications. It is important to treat the infection as soon as possible due to the debilitating effects of the disease. In Rufus’s case he went on to a full recovery, and his owners explained they would be sure to keep up with his flea and tick preventative from now on. Monthly preventatives are very important and often times are good enough to prevent the infection in the first place.