Lyme disease in dogs is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world but only causes symptoms in 5-10% of affected dogs. It is caused by a spirochete (bacteria) species of the Borrelia burgdorferi group. When infection leads to disease in dogs, the dominant clinical feature is recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. There may also be a lack of appetite and depression. More serious complications include damage to the kidneys, and rarely, heart or nervous system disease.
Kidney disease appears to be more prevalent in Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Shetland sheepdogs, and Bernese Mountain dogs. Experimentally, young dogs appear to be more susceptible to Lyme disease than older dogs. Transmission of the disease has been reported in dogs throughout the United States and Europe, but is most prevalent in the upper Midwestern states, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific coastal states.
Symptoms and types of Lyme disease in dogs
Many dogs who develop Lyme disease have recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. Sometimes the lameness lasts for only three to four days but recurs days to weeks later, either in the same leg or in other legs. This is known as “shifting-leg lameness.” One or more joints may be swollen, warm, and painful.
Some dogs may also develop kidney problems. Lyme disease sometimes leads to glomerulonephritis – inflammation and accompanying dysfunction of the kidney’s glomeruli (essentially, a blood filter). Eventually, kidney failure may set in as the dog begins to exhibit such signs as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups.
Other symptoms associated with Lyme disease include:
- Stiff walk with an arched back
- Sensitivity to touch
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever, lack of appetite, and depression
- Superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen
- Heart abnormalities are reported, but rare
- Nervous system complications (rare)
Read more about Lyme Disease in Dogs at http://www.petmd.com/