Pet Wise: A pet’s experience with Lyme disease

One February morning in 2003 the crates for my dogs were opened to release them to start their day by going outdoors to relieve themselves, stretch their legs, and be served their breakfast.

However, my 4-year old, Floss, stumbled out of her crate and collapsed onto the floor. An immediate phone call to the veterinary hospital was made and an appointment was scheduled that morning.


Our vet took a blood sample to test for Lyme disease and Floss tested positive. The blood sample also revealed that her protein level was low. Our vet was concerned that the sources for the protein loss could be from my dog’s gastrointestinal tract or urinary tract. I was instructed to collect and bring stool and urine samples for analysis.

Her urinary tract was the source and her kidneys were damaged. The antibiotic doxycycline was prescribed and a change of her diet was required. Floss was placed on a prescription diet to support kidney functioning. She was always a “chow hound” and readily devoured her new diet in both the canned and dry food formulas. She regarded the dry food also served as a training treat!

Her mobility and energy levels gradually improved over time. Urine samples were collected and tested on a regular basis to monitor her protein levels and her Lyme disease tests still remained positive. However, in September 2005, her Lyme disease test revealed a negative result! My vet then told me that most dogs do not survive what Floss experienced. I was so glad that she never shared that information when Floss was initially diagnosed!

My dog’s tick bite may have occurred during the summer of 2005, but the Lyme disease symptoms did not surface until more than 5 months later. The usual symptom is lameness that can shift to other legs, a mild fever, loss of appetite and lethargy. These symptoms should not be ignored and dogs should be evaluated by a vet to prevent chronic joint disease and potentially deadly kidney damage.

The main diagnostic tools to determine if Lyme disease is present are blood testing and urinalysis Blood tests usually include a complete blood count along with a biochemistry panel, and other comprehensive tests. If the dog is lame, radiographs and analysis of joint fluid are usually included.

Lyme disease can be prevented by administering preventives like Bravecto and Nexgard administered year- round and owners conducting frequent tick checks.

Floss was a very lucky little dog and lived to be 15 years old.