LYME DISEASE IN DOGS
(And resulting CARDIOMYPATHY)
"Lyme Disease" is a Tick borne illness caused by the bacteria (spirochete), Borrelia Burgdorferi. It is now regarded as the most common Tick borne disease in the United States. The White Tailed deer and White Footed Mouse are the reservoir for the disease, but a wide variety of wild and domestic animals and birds can harbor the infection. Lyme disease typically occurs from May to August, peaking in the month of July.
The disease in dogs is typified by the sudden onset of lameness caused by tender, swollen joints that are painful to the touch. The dog appears weak and runs a fever. The lameness may last a few days but can recur at any time for several months. Serological blood tests with confirm the diagnosis.
Antibiotics are effective, especially if given when the dog first contacts the disease. A vaccine is also now available for the prevention of the disease.
One of the complications resulting from Lyme's Disease is "Cardiomypathy". This is a disease of the heart muscle in which inflammation and scarring cause enlargement of the heart and dilation of the chambers. Eventually the muscle weakens and the dog develops Congestive Heart Failure.
The first indications are those of unexplained Lethargy, Weight Loss, Cough, Exercise Intolerance and Shortness Of Breath. Cardiac Arrhythmia's may cause fainting. Worsening of weight loss and other signs can occur with surprising rapidity. Acute Cardiomypathy does occur. This is life threatening.
In some cases there will be an identifiable cause, such as prior infection, Hypothyroidism, Diabetes and Lyme Disease (Lyme Carditis).
Treatment is difficult and requires INTENSIVE Veterinary Management. Sudden death can occur at any time.