Lyme Disease in Dogs Q&A
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is a condition caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans and dogs through the bite of infected black legged ticks. Most people that get exposed to the Lyme bacteria get sick with symptoms ranging from fever and fatigue to infection in the joints and nervous system. What we see in dogs is different. Current studies demonstrate that 80-95% of dogs exposed to the bacteria never show signs of disease. Because most of our canine patients don’t get clinically ill from infection, veterinarians talk about two different conditions in dogs; being exposed to the Lyme bacteria versus having Lyme Disease.
Dogs that do get sick from Lyme bacteria most commonly will have lethargy, fever and sore joints. However, there is a very serious and rare complication of Lyme Disease that can affect the kidneys, called Lyme Nephritis. In this disease, an autoimmune problem develops in the kidneys triggered by the Lyme bacteria. Dogs with Lyme Nephritis can have vomiting and poor appetite. Their kidneys can go into failure quickly and there are limited treatment options. Lyme Nephritis is fatal if a dog develops this complication.
History of the breed:
The English Bulldog is typically the most docile of creatures, even though the history of the breed is quite gruesome and dramatic.First mentioned in the literature around 1500, the bulldog was bred to fight bulls in the “sport” of bull baiting. Bull baiting entails setting loose dogs onto a tethered bull and making wagers over which dog could grab the bull by the nose and pin it to the ground. This “sport” is not only cruel to the bull, but many dogs were also severely maimed or killed during the process. Thankfully, bull baiting was made illegal by the Cruelty to Animals Act of 1835.