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Veterinarians are Working with Medical Doctors to Promote Early Detection of Lyme Disease

Reviewed by Dr. Peter Kintzer, DVM, DACVIM on Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Posted September 29, 2014 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Does your dog play with your child in the backyard or woods? Of course! People and pets often spend time together hiking, walking or playing in the same environment, which can potentially put them at risk for common exposures to the same disease-transmitting ticks.  

“DogSo, if your dog was just diagnosed with Lyme disease, this article is a must-read for you.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there has been a dramatic increase in the number of diagnosed human infection cases of Lyme disease per year – up from 30,000 to 300,000 recently1. Lyme disease has been found in every US State, and it would be dangerous to think that your dog is safe based on your location. People who live in these 13 states should know that the incidence of Lyme disease is especially great: CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NY, PA, VT, VA, WI2.  

Lyme disease, caused by a spiral-shaped organism called Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), can affect humans, dogs, horses and other species, and is one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the world. Clinical signs of Lyme disease vary between humans and dogs.

Human symptoms of Lyme disease
Clinical signs of acute Lyme include:

  • Flu-like signs
  • A target-like rash

Chronic (long-lasting) signs of Lyme disease in humans include:

  • Arthritis
  • Skin changes
  • Neurologic signs (e.g., meningitis)
  • Cardiac signs (e.g., arrhythmias)

Dog Symptoms of Lyme disease
In dogs, three states of Lyme disease can be seen: acute, sub-acute and chronic. With acute Lyme disease in dogs, clinical signs include:

Sub-acute clinical signs, like limping, may also be seen in dogs, and can last several weeks.

Chronic clinical signs in dogs include:

  • Cardiac changes (e.g., bradyarrhythmias such as heart block, etc.)
  • Neurologic signs
  • Arthritis
  • Changes related to Lyme nephritis (e.g., inflammation of the kidneys that can result in acute kidney failure, which is estimated to occur in 1-2% of dogs affected by Lyme disease)3.

What is being done to combat Lyme disease?
Based on the fact that Lyme disease can result in significant problems for both humans and dogs, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) teamed up on a new initiative to

Related symptoms: 

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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.