Lyme Disease treatment includes Doxycycline, a form of the antibiotic tetracycline. Because tetracyclines discolor the teeth of growing pets, and of pets still developing within the uterus, we use a different antibiotic for nursing, pregnant, and young pets — Amoxicillin. Doxycycline and amoxicillin are relatively inexpensive and do not normally cause serious side effects. The antibiotics begin to work quickly and arthritic symptoms improve within 2 days, but the antibiotic is continued for 1-4 weeks because the spirochete (the organism that causes Lyme disease) hides within the cells and is difficult to kill. Even with several weeks of antibiotics, it is impossible to eradicate the bacteria (Borrelia); but antibiotics decrease the number of spirochetes to a point that they no longer cause disease.
Proponents for vaccination say the disease should be prevented even though it is relatively mild in most dogs. These vaccine proponents admit that the initial Lyme disease vaccine may not have been ideal, but that a new recombinant vaccine has been developed. It's hoped the recombinant vaccine will prevent both the disease and the development of kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis). The initial vaccine may have caused glomerulonephritis in some pets even though it prevented Lyme disease.
Those who oppose vaccination for Lyme disease point out that in areas where Lyme disease is endemic, 90% of dogs have antibodies to the disease, indicating they have been exposed to the bacteria. Still only 5-10% of these dogs become ill, and they can be treated with Doxycycline, an inexpensive antibiotic. Vaccine opponents are concerned these vaccines carry some risk, and that the vaccine may cause more harm than the disease itself. They also fear that the vaccine will increase the white blood cells, and these cells will cause kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis).
Treatment for later stages of Lyme Disease is more difficult. It often requires longer courses of antibiotic therapy, and sometimes repetitive courses. Treatment failures and relapses can occur.
Yes. Lyme disease causes arthritis (inflammation of the joint). Pets with Lyme disease limp and have intermittent, wandering arthritis that affects one joint one day, and the same or another joint the next day. The painful arthritic joint may be hot and swollen so that pets walk stiffly and arch their backs. With inflammation comes cartilage damage, and the possibility of long-term joint destruction. If you pet has arthritis and is on pain medication already, we recommend joint supplements, Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as those listed below.