My GSD almost died of tick disease in the “chronic phase”! I adopted her at 1-year old, i was told she had health issues – vets thought pancreatitis – this was farthest from the truth. Some days it was limping, some days low energy, some days not eating! active then not active – throwing up bile – by this time i’d taken her to 3 vets and to each one i asked, “can this be tick disease”. answers were, no i don’t think so. Six months into having her – 4th vet – she went for a bladder infection – was given treatment and said, if not better in 24 hours its urgent come back. URGENT – we go back, by this time i’d been feeding her broth and cottage cheese, she was on her death bed – i scream at the Vet – this has to be tick! she was put on doxiclycine – the vet said it won’t kill her if its not but will save her if it is – blood was sent to lab (takes a week for results) the next day on treatment we got a glimmer of hope then 48 hours later on treatment she started eating then bouncing back eventually to a healthy dog. Her lab tests indicated she was positive at the highest tick Tider for 3 tick diseases. Vets know very little about chronic phase tick disease – but everyone should know about this if you live in tick borne areas. because she was young her immunity was enough to fight it off till suddenly like in her case a bladder infection came on – usually if its not caught at this stage they die quickly. I read horrible stories about vets not picking it up at this chronic phase then their pet dies before anything can be done. i tell you i was extremely lucky.
Hi Mary H-
Thanks for the warning! But, mostly, I’m really glad it was finally caught and your pup is gonna be ok. That was close!
Even if you don’t live in an area with a big tick population you must be careful. Lyme disease has been found in all 48 continental states.
I also have a GSD that was diagnosed and treated for other things before being tested for Lyme. She was asymptomatic for it so there was not a real reason to test. She has since been treated for it again.
We have used 2 different antibiotics and both has caused tremendous GI discomfort and problems. She also has a touch of arthritis in 1 hip because of the Lyme.
Again, she showed no symptoms but her titer was off the charts when it came back. When she was a pup she had ehrlichia. Not one symptom then either.
From now on I will be having all my dogs tested for tick borne diseases at least 1x/yr.
Working with horses, I know how relentless and prevalent those stupid ticks are. There’s usually 1 horse being treated at any given time all year long. Even in winter (I’m in New England).
Another word of caution is that once your dog has Lyme vets will blame it on everything they can’t figure out. For more than a yr we’ve been back & forth to the vet. After 9 months and her last emergency visit she saw a specialist at that hospital who tweaked her diet a little. Then said to wait a while to let her gut heal and calm down. It’s been 3 months and we’re just now trying to transition her to a new diet. So far so good. [Knock on wood.] They also gave a prescription probiotic. I’ll probably add enzymes during the transition period.
How about when Lyme gets into the kidneys? It’s an ugly disease. I find the vets routinely check for Lyme now when you do the heartworm test these days. Annual testing is the minimum, some people test their dogs every 6 months if they are at high risk….best to catch it early.
Mary H I just reread your post. I’m glad I did. It isn’t too different from my GSD’s battle with this disease. We’re more than a yr in and still battling its effects. (Hopefully we are finally winning.)
It’s an awful disease that some vets don’t take seriously, don’t consider, don’t understand and/or blame every future problem on.
If a dog has Lyme and comes down with other issues the body usually overreacts in its immune response and this can make matters worse. At the time of a Lyme flare up their bodies are busy fighting that bacteria that they can often get something else.
Anonymously Lyme can cause a condition in the kidbeys called glomerulonephritis. This destroys the kidney’s ability to cleanse the blood.
What happens is the body drastically increases antibody molecules to fight the Lyme proteins. These molecules get trapped in the filtering mechanism of the kidneys.
If you suspect this have your vet test the protein/creatinine ratio in the urine. This is called an ERD test.
@ Jenn H
I had a senior poodle mix that had some vague symptoms, lameness etc. By the time she was properly diagnosed with Lyme (they assumed her symptoms were age related) kidney damage had occurred.
Lyme attacks quickly, she had tested negative 4 months prior. That is why I suggested twice a year testing for dogs in high risk locations.
Thanks, for your response.
It is a very sneaky and tricky disease. False negatives are very common. They are improving on that as the disease and need becomes more prevalent. (There’s a good one that has to be specially ordered. The name escapes me right now. Will share when I find it.)
When we suspect Lyme in the horses we start them on Doxy anyway. Even if the titer hasn’t come back yet. They typically show improvement within 2 wks.
You never want it to get so out of hand that it causes irreparable damage. I know a horse right now that is neurologic from it.
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