What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease originates from a bacterium known as a spirochete, which comes from the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. It's transferred to a canine via a tick bite, usually from a deer tick. But Scientists are discovering other types of ticks transmit Lyme disease as well.
How to Detect it in Animals
Unlike humans who may develop the "bull's-eye rash," the animal won't develop any kind of skin reaction from Lyme disease. Because of this, Lyme disease tends to go undetected in pets. In many cases, the pet doesn't develop symptoms for awhile, which delays the diagnosis and treatment processes. In most cases, the doctor tests for other conditions before considering the possibility of Lyme disease. It's not uncommon for the condition to go undetected for a year or longer. By that time, several areas of the body are affected.
The first sign of Lyme disease in animals is localized pain due to the disease affecting the joints. The pet may experience difficulty walking and appear like he is "walking on eggshells." Limping is common and the pet may also stop eating and have a risen temperature. Sometimes, the symptoms will begin and stop. Without treatment, the symptoms will eventually return.
How Does the Vet Diagnose It?
It's not really possible for a vet to make the diagnosis without testing, even if the doctor suspects Lyme disease. The vet will order one of two different tests: an antibody test or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. An antibody test detects the presence of antibodies from the organism, rather than the actual bacteria in the blood. The antibody test isn't always accurate since the pet will
A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is the other type and is more accurate. It's a DNA test that's more sensitive than an antibody test. Not every pet has the bacteria in his blood, so a false negative may occur from a blood test. Vets can also test fluid from a joint to detect Lymes Disease.
If you spot a tick on your pet or if you pet isn't acting himself, call your veterinarian right away. The sooner a disease is diagnosed the sooner treatment can begin. If you live in an area where there are many ticks or if you plan on traveling with your pet to an area with ticks ask your vet about the Lyme's Disease vaccine.