Can a dog have a tick disease with a normal blood test?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My cocker spaniel (see avator) has been sick with a fever and some pain. I took him to the vet who ran a complete tick disease blood test on him and it came back negative. He gave him a shot, gave me some antibiotics and pain pills and told me to get back to him. Well, my dog seemed better the next day, then I sent my daughter out to walk him. She was upset when she came back and said that Rufus could barely walk and cried when he had to climb a small step. He seemed feverish again and laid down and would not eat. When we touched his head or sides he yelped. He was trembling. Gave him pain medications and he was better. He does NOT have an injury though.

    I'm really afraid he has Lymes or some other tick disease even with his blood test being normal. On the plus side, he is alert and his stool is ok. He eats after he takes his pain pill. I called the Vet again and he said to wait until Monday and then see. So I'm waiting.

    Does this ring a bell with anybody? I'm really worried about my Ruffy Doo (as we call him). He's a seven year old cocker spaniel who weights 35 lbs. He has been wanting to be near me all the time and it's breaking my heart. :(
  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    He sounds like he has something causing pain. I wish I knew more but I would give him pain medications and make him
    as comfortable as possible through the weekend. Eating and pooping is a good sign.
  3. Star*

    Star* call 911

    To answer your question MWM - yes. They can show a false positive. There are 2 blood test that can be run. Not sure which your vet ran, but if he's still crying out in pain I would call the vet IMMEDIATELY.

    Here's an article that should explain what I'm trying to say better -

    What is Lyme Disease?

    Lyme Disease (not Lyme's Disease) is caused by a spirochete called Borrelia. A spirochete is a type of bacterium. It is transmitted to dogs through the bite of a tick. Once in the blood stream, it is carried to many parts of the body. It is especially likely to localize in joints.

    It was first thought that only a few types of ticks could transmit this disease, but now it appears that several common species may be involved.

    Can this disease also affect people?

    Yes, but people do not get it directly from dogs. They get it from being bitten by the same ticks that transmit it to dogs. Therefore, preventing exposure to ticks is important for you and your dog.

    How is a dog affected?

    Many people having the disease develop a characteristic rash at the site of the bite within 3 to 30 days. For these people, the disease can be easily diagnosed at an early stage. However, symptoms of Lyme Disease are more difficult to detect in animals than in people.

    This characteristic rash does not develop in dogs or cats. Because the other symptoms of the disease may be delayed or not recognized, and because the symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases, Lyme Disease in animals is often not considered until other diseases have been eliminated.

    Many dogs affected with Lyme Disease are taken to a veterinarian because they seem to be experiencing generalized pain and have stopped eating. Affected dogs have been described as if they were "walking on eggshells." Often these animals have high fevers.

    Dogs may also become lame because of the disease. This painful lameness often appears suddenly and may shift from one leg to another. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.

    Some pets are affected with the Lyme Disease organism for over a year before they finally show symptoms. By this time, the disease may be quite widespread in the body.

    How is Lyme Disease diagnosed?

    Dogs with lameness, swollen joints, and fever are suspected of having Lyme Disease. However, other diseases may also cause these symptoms. There are two blood tests that may be used for confirmation. The first is an antibody test. This test does not detect the actual spirochete in the blood but detects the presence of antibodies created by exposure to the organism. A test can be falsely negative if the dog is infected but has not yet formed antibodies, or if it never forms enough antibodies to cause a positive reaction. This may occur in animals with suppressed immune systems. Some dogs that have been infected for long periods of time may no longer have enough antibodies present to be detected by the test. Therefore, a positive test is meaningful, but a negative is not.

    The second test is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. This is also known as DNA testing. It is very specific and sensitive. However, not all dogs have the spirochete in their blood cells. If a blood sample is tested, a false negative may occur. The best sample for testing is the fluid from an affected joint.

    How is Lyme Disease treated?

    Because the Lyme spirochete is a bacterium, it can be controlled by antibiotics. However, a lengthy course of treatment is necessary to completely eradicate the organism.

    The initial antibiotic selected to treat an infected pet may not be effective against the disease, especially if the infection is long-standing. In this situation, a switch to another antibiotic is often effective. Occasionally, the initial infection will recur, or the pet will become reinfected after being bitten by another infected tick.

    How can I prevent my dog from getting Lyme Disease?

    The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short tree (especially Cedar trees). Here they wait until their sensors detect a close-by animal on which to crawl or drop.

    Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas.

    How do I remove a tick from my dog?

    Check your pet immediately after it has been in a tick-infected area. If you find a tick moving on your pet, the tick has not fed. Remove the tick promptly and place it in rubbing alcohol or crush it between two solid surfaces.

    If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dog's skin and firmly pull it straight out. You may need another person to help restrain your dog. Removing the tick quickly is important since the disease is not transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. If you crush the tick, do not get the tick's contents, including blood, on your skin. The spirochete that causes Lyme Disease can pass through a wound or cut in your skin.

    Is there a vaccine that will protect my dog from Lyme Disease?

    A vaccine is now available for protecting dogs against Lyme Disease. This vaccine is initially given twice, at two week intervals. Annual revaccination is also necessary to maintain immunity. The vaccine has been shown to be safe and very effective. It is recommended for any dog that has exposure to ticks.
  4. Mamaof5

    Mamaof5 Guest

    Lyme Disease does not always show up on the "short" quick test. It's better to do the other test (takes longer for the lab to get the results, I don't remember the name of it). Lyme disease is apparently more prevalent than most thing. I hope your pup feels better soon!
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks to all, especially Star. I'm going to ask for the long test. I though the vaccine wasn't a good one, but since it is, I'm going to vaccinate my dogs. I used to take my cockapoo to the dog park and he'd get ticks. I wonder if one jumped to the cocker. I am NOT taking any of them to the dog park anymore. I don't like all the ticks. The tick prevention I put on their skin doesn't seem to work 100%.

    Thanks for the good wishes. Rufy has already been to the vet once and I talked to the vet today and he'll go back Monday if he's not 100% better. Even then, I may take him in for more tests. I may have to sell my van, but I'm going to see what's wrong with the pooch.
  6. jal

    jal Member

    MWM - There is also another form of Lyme disease called Erlichia. I would ask the vet about that too. I had that form about 15 years ago. I was even enrolled in a study because it was new at that time. We could always tell when our Rottie had a Lyme flare up because he only could turn his head to one side. The other was too painful for him.

    "Anaplasmosis, also known as Erlichia Equi, is now extremely common in the northeast and prevalent in pets, such as dogs and cats. Some vets report that almost half of the animals tested have the disease, which can attack the joints. The symptoms are similar to Lymes' disease as is the treatment - a course of Doxycycline. A growing number of vets recommend testing pets for the disease every six months to a year."
  7. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Our Sophie was just diagnosed with a strange form of lymes just yesterday. The vet thinks it's also causing her liver enzymes to increase. It's clear Sophie is having trouble walking and is also very sleepy and mushy.

    I hope you find out what's up with your baby and he's feeling better before Monday.
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911

    MWM -

    I just hope your fur kid is better. FYI - we spray the yard with fogger - but tics can fall from trees, crawl up a dog if it's in the grass, jump on from another dog. Best just to check your dog head to toe with a quick pet to feel for little lumps.

    Let us know how the cocker is!