Lyme disease is a serious illness in dogs, and it has to be diagnosed and caught early in order to avoid long term serious and chronic complications. Let us see what a red ring on dog means, and what you can do about it?
Deer Ticks-Hazards they pose to your pet
If you live near the woods infested with deer ticks, know that they can transmit serious diseases such as Borreliosis in your pet. Tick bite symptoms often include a red rash or mark resembling a ‘target’ or the ‘bull’s eye’ rash. In many cases, the tick may still be attached to the pet. The dog might even scratch or chew in the area bitten. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect your dog from getting this red rash and Lyme disease.
However, a red ring or rash does not always mean canine Lyme disease.
When is a red ring on the dog not Lyme disease
The good news is, not all red rings following a tick bite indicate Lyme disease. As long as your dog is healthy and is being fed a good diet, it should be fine. Also, if you have used tick repellent such as Frontline etc, the tick might not even have actually bitten it in the first place or your dog might have developed certain amount of immunity to it. Also not all Ticks lead to Lyme disease in canines- only certain varieties and species cause this disease and particularly the ones having the microorganism Borrelia burgdorferi. Moreover, the tick needs to be attached to the dog for a period of at least 8 to 16 hours for the organism to actually cause Lyme. That being said, if you have caught the tick , place it in a plastic bag or box and get it identified, as soon as you can, by taking it to your vet or local forest department official.
Watch out for Tick bite and Lyme disease symptoms
Naturally, once you have discovered the red bull’s eye ring/bite mark, it is best to keep a watch out for Lyme disease symptoms in your dog. These include:
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Fever and flu like symptoms
- Swelling in joints and lymph nodes
- Painful movements
- Lack of appetite
- Lameness in legs
Additionally, there may be rare and serious side effects such as irregularity of heart beat, change in the bark, excess salivation, kidney problems or nervous system issues.
The unfortunate part about diagnosis of Lyme disease is that it often goes unnoticed for months. Also, the symptoms tend to resemble many other diseases-so the diagnosis could come months later. There are a few blood tests to diagnose Lyme’s but most vets do not carry them out early enough.
Treating Lyme disease
When caught early, Lyme disease is completely treatable mainly through the use of antibiotics. The dog should be administered the medicines as prescribed making sure you give it its complete dose. If any of the above symptoms are present, make sure you take the dog to the vet immediately. Typical antibiotics used for treating canine Lyme disease include Amoxycilin and Doxycycline. These are to be taken for up to 3 weeks or a month based on the severity of the symptoms.
Protecting your pet from Lyme disease
- Avoid letting your dog out in grassy trails. If necessary, use vet approved tick repellent products to repel ticks. These include spot applications and oral medicines.
- If your dog has been out for a walk where there are ticks reported, inspect its body thoroughly, after you get back home. If a tick is attached, remove it immediately.
- Always use a pair of tweezers to remove ticks. Wash or wipe the area using antibacterial soap solution and apply some Neosporin to the wound.
- Use tick collars or other permethrin based products for your pet.
- Shampoo your pet using permethrin based shampoo or other vet approved product at least twice a month.
- You could opt for vaccination –particularly the Lyme vaccine-which may not be 100% effective in preventing canine Lyme disease, but can certainly offer some degree of protection.
- You could use certain essential oils which are quite beneficial in repelling ticks. Check out the article on essential oils here.
Ticks are very small and often go unnoticed. A female adult tick could also lay hundreds of eggs on and around your pet. So make sure you treat your pet’s environment using tick repellent products. Vacuum the house frequently and also wash the pet’s bedding in hot water to kill tick eggs. All these are tried and tested methods of keeping your pet safe from ticks. If, despite these precautions, you see a red ring on your dog’s body, get it examined for ticks and Lyme disease by your vet.