What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme Disease is a condition that frequently affects thousands of dogs each year. Lyme Disease was first positively identified in Lyme, Connecticut in 1975. First diagnosed in humans, it was found that Lyme Disease was causing an abnormal number of cases of diagnosed arthritis. This was a mis-diagnosis, and research began to investigate more about this relatively new disease. Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria that is most commonly transmitted through tick bites.

Though not a life-threatening condition, it is possible for Lyme Disease to cause serious damage and lifetime chronic conditions. Lyme disease is not unique to dogs, and can also be contracted by humans, cats, and other mammals. Though it hasn't been suggested that an infected dog may transmit this disease to their owner or other household pets, it is still possible for an infected animal to bring potentially infectious ticks into the household.

Is Lyme Disease deadly?

If left untreated, it is possible for Lyme Disease to result in significant damage to a dog's cardiac and neurological systems. Depending on how severe this damage is, a dog may or may not be able to recover from this condition. In some cases, serious complications may develop that will cause a dog to experience health problems for the rest of their life.
However, if treated in its early stages, most dogs will show a complete recovery from Lyme Disease. Treatment options vary, though usually involve the administration of antibiotics. Antibiotics are currently the most common and most effective treatment for relatively mild to moderate cases of Lyme Disease.

What parts of the USA are most commonly affected by Lyme Disease?

Though Lyme Disease has been positively confirmed in 47 of the lower 48 states, there are certain areas of the country where Lyme Disease is more common. Approximately 90% of all confirmed cases of Lyme Disease have occurred in the North-Central and North-East states of the USA.
California has also reported a large number of confirmed Lyme Disease cases, mostly in the Northwestern area. Mississippi, as well as a few other southern states have also reported frequent cases of Lyme Disease. Some cases of Lyme Disease develop when housing complexes are newly developed in woodland areas where the Deer Tick is native.

What are some of the complications of Lyme Disease?

If left untreated, it is possible for many potentially serious complications to develop from this disease. Lyme Disease has the ability to affect many different organs of the body, and can possibly cause serious damage. Arthritis is a common complication of untreated Lyme Disease. This can mean that a dog will have swelling in the large joints, which may or may not reoccur even after the disease is treated.

Due to the possible neurological damage that can result from untreated Lyme Disease, other serious complications may develop. This includes Bell's palsy, which is a paralysis of the facial muscles (usually localized to one side of the face). Meningitis is also one of the possible complications that may arise from untreated Lyme Disease.

Next article: Causes of Lyme Disease in Dogs