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January 28, 2010 at 1:17 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Lyme Disease and Arthritis: Is There A Link?

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Yes, there is a link between Lyme disease and Arthritis. Both humans and dogs can get Lyme disease from tick bites. If Lyme disease is left untreated, it can cause problems in the heart, joints and central nervous system, including arthritis. If your pet gets Lyme disease, he is not destined for arthritis. If you get him treatment in time, your pet will probably be fine. This article will give you the basics of Lyme disease, arthritis and how it relates to your pets

Cause of Lyme Disease in Humans and Animals

Lyme disease is caused by bites from infected ticks that stay on the body for more than two days. Cats and horses can also develop Lyme disease, but it is very rare. Also, not all dogs or people who are exposed to a tick carrying Lyme disease will contract the disease. Only 10 percent of dogs exposed to Lyme disease will develop it. Dogs and humans cannot infect each other with the disease.

Location Affects the Likelihood of Developing Lyme Disease

People in all 50 states have been infected, but most cases of Lyme disease in the United States come from certain areas:

  • 85 percent of cases occurred on the East Coast from Massachusetts to Virginia.
  • 10 percent occurred in Wisconsin and Minnesota
  • 4 percent occurred in California
  • 1 percent occurred in the remaining states

Your location will determine which species of tick will bite you. In the Northeast and the Midwest, the deer tick spreads the disease. In the South, the black-legged tick will get you. In the West, look out for the western black-legged tick. It is speculated that the 1 percent of remaining cases were caused by travel to endemic areas.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Dogs have different symptoms from humans and take longer to develop the disease. The illness usually develops two to five months after the bite. The most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are:

  • Fever of 103-105 degrees
  • Shifting lameness in legs
  • Swelling in joints
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Unlike people, dogs do not develop redness or rash around the bite.

Treatments for Lyme Disease

When dogs are diagnosed and treated early on in the disease, they don't usually develop arthritis. Dogs develop arthritis only when they do not respond to treatment or are not treated at all. Dogs with Lyme disease are given penicillin-based or tetracycline antibiotics for 14 to 30 days. Most dogs respond well to this treatment and make a complete recovery. Some dogs will need longer than 30 days on the antibiotic and relapse when taken off of the drug. Other dogs may never completely fight off the disease, even though they no longer show symptoms. These animals are more likely to develop arthritis later.

How to Prevent Lyme Disease

  • Remove all ticks you find on your dog (and yourself) within 4-6 hours of exposure
  • Use tick repellants
  • Try a tick collar containing Amitraz
  • Vaccinate for Lyme disease if you live in an endemic area


Photo Credit: loupiote

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