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Your Dog and the Dangers of Lyme Disease: Part II

Reviewed by Dr. Alexis Seguin, DVM, MS, DACVIM on Thursday, September 3, 2015
Posted December 22, 2014 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Lyme disease is something you should know about, and Dr. Justine Lee is here to help. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!

I've talked about what Lyme disease is and how to prevent it. Now, we’re going to focus on how to treat it and diagnose it accurately.

Dog lying in grassIs Lyme disease treatable?
If your dog tests positive for Lyme disease, or more importantly, is clinically sick from Lyme disease, then treatment includes an antibiotic called doxycycline (which often needs to be given for 4 weeks). While this is a relatively “safe” antibiotic, doxycycline can cause vomiting, esophagitis or reflux, sun-sensitivity, and permanent yellowing of puppy teeth – so make sure your dog really needs it before you give it! 

As an FYI, you can help prevent side effects from doxycycline by doing the following:

  • When administering the pill, give it in a small meatball, followed by your pet’s normal meal. This will help push the pill into the stomach, preventing the pill from sitting in the esophagus.
  • Don’t give the pill right before your dog goes to bed – otherwise, if the pill is sitting in the esophagus (while your dog is lying down on his side), it can result in severe esophagitis.
  • Keep your outdoor dog inside (so he’s out of the sun for long periods of time) while he’s on the medication, due to the rare risk of sun sensitivity (thankfully, dogs have fur, so are less likely to develop this side effect as compared to humans!).
  • Don’t give this antibiotic with dairy products (e.g., in ice cream or yogurt), as it inactivates the antibiotic.

My general rule? If your dog has symptoms of Lyme, he should be treated. If he doesn’t have any symptoms and just happens to have a positive blood test for it, I don’t typically treat without doing more advanced tests (e.g., like a urine test measuring for protein or a specific quantitive C6 blood test…keep reading below to find out what these tests are!).

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.