Good veterinarian medicine is an important part of keeping your dog healthy. Unfortunately, its also big business. Dog owners pay out a lot of money every year for unnecessary tests, inoculations and treatments. People are frightened by carefully orchestrated press releases showing worst case scenarios for various health issues and this fear leads them to willingly shell out money in an effort to protect the animals they love from minimal threats to their well-being. Lyme disease is one such area and the industry makes a lot of money off the good intentions of gullible dog owners.
Lymes disease in dogs: symptoms
These are the symptoms of Lyme disease
- fever of between 103 and 105°
- swelling in the joints
- swollen lymph nodes
- loss of appetite.
These symptoms are so vague that a person who hadn’t heard of Lyme’s disease would probably do the sensible thing and simply rest the dog for a few days and see how it goes. If you’ve been threatened by bogus warnings about Lyme, you may rush your dog for tests.
Unfortunately, there are no good tests for Lyme disease. Blood tests give a lot of false positives and even a true positive reading doesn’t mean you have to worry. Here’s why.
First Lyme disease only occurs in a small geographical area ie the north-eastern US. If you don’t live in that small area you don’t have to worry about it. Second, its very hard to catch lyme disease. The dog has to be bitten by a deer tick that carries it, the tick has to remain in place for at least 48 hours to infect the dog. The majority of dogs that are unfortunate enough to carry one of these ticks don’t get the disease in any case. Third, the vast majority of dogs that do become infected never show any symptoms or suffer any ill effects. This is why the results of blood tests can be so deceiving. Finding lyme antibodies in a dog’s blood does not mean that he is at any risk whatsoever.
If you live in an area where Lyme disease is present and your dog has developed lameness that persists beyond a couple of days, he might, indeed, have contracted the disease. What do you do? Simple. Treat the dog for Lyme using the antibiotic doxycycline. This is an oral antibiotic that works specifically on the Lyme spirochette and it works fast. You should see definite improvement within three days. If you don’t see improvement, then the problem isn’t Lyme disease and you discontinue the treatment. Should the dog improve, continue the treatments for five weeks.
Doxycycline is given at a rate of 5mg per pound of dog, so a twenty pound terrier like a Jack or a Westie would need 100mg and it would get it every twelve hours. The drug is available without a prescription. You can order it from Amazon among other places. It is intended for use with birds, but it works just as well on dogs.
There are many health issues that you need to be aware of but lyme disease isn’t one of them unless you live in the danger area and are very unlucky. Don’t let your vet administer tests or routine inoculations for it. Keep your money in your pocket and save it for training or safety equipment like a life-jacket for your dog. Another thing you can do is put the money you save into a special bank account to cover any real medical emergencies that may come your way. Most important, do what you can to protect him from real dangers like being hit by a car or attacked by another dog. But you don’t have to worry about Lyme disease.