Lyme disease was first diagnosed in Lyme, Connecticut in 1976. Canine Lyme Disease has been reported in every state, but some states have more disease carrying ticks than others. The disease is caused by the bite of a tick. There are three varieties of ticks that can transmit the disease, but it is most commonly spread by the Deer Tick.
The ticks don't actually cause the disease, but they serve as "vectors" who spread a bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi, which causes the disease. Tick larvae get the bacteria by feeding on the blood of voles, especially the white-footed mouse. Once the larvae become adults, they turn begin to feed on deer. After they have fed on deer blood, they mate, producing thousands of eggs, starting the cycle again.
Unfortunately, a tick may decide to dine on your dog, transmitting the bacteria in the process. The tick must remain attached to your dog's skin for at least one to two days before the bacteria is transmitted into the bloodstream. It's important to note that you can't get Lyme Disease from your dog, only from the tick.
Symptoms include lameness or limping, fever, swelling of the joints and/or lymph nodes, and loss of appetite. In extreme cases, the nervous system and heart can be affected. Because the symptoms are similar to other diseases, Lyme Disease can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. If your dog is fine one day, but becomes progressively worse in movement, Lyme Disease may be suspected. A blood test can be run to confirm presence of the disease. A different blood test must be given for dogs who were previously vaccinated against the disease.
Treatment for canine Lyme disease includes antibiotics for about 4 weeks. Aspirin can be given to help with pain and stiffness (under advice of your veterinarian). Most dogs will recover completely, but some may relapse and require additional courses of antibiotics. Lingering joint pain may occur in cases that are identified in later stages.
No method is 100% effective in preventing Lyme disease. To reduce the chance of your Boston contracting it: