Summertime is a high season for insect-borne diseases. With the warmer weather, we are spending more time outdoors, among the tall grass that makes a happy home for all sorts of creepy crawlies and especially…
In North America, the most probable way to be infected with Lyme disease is from the bite of a black-legged tick. You may not even notice you or your pet have come into contact with these little buggers until long after the fact, when symptoms begin to surface.
And believe me, it ain’t pretty!
What is Lyme Disease?
It’s actually not the tick bite itself that causes Lyme Disease, but a particular bacteria which tics are prone to hosting.
When ya tick sinks its teeth into your furry friend, there’s a high likelihood that they could be carrying borrelia burgdorferi and have the capacity to pass it on.
Generally, it takes between 36 and 48 hours for the bacterial transmission to occur. The problem is, unless you are looking for the tics after every outing, it is possible you won’t ever know the infection happened until it is too late.
According to Dr. Rania Gollakner, DVM, Lyme disease in dogs is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world, but it only causes symptoms in 5-10% of affected dogs. So some dogs may have it, but never show symptoms. In other dogs, symptoms don’t show up until years after the event that infected them.
So even if you do everything in your power to prevent tick bites and Lyme disease, it’s possible your dog could become infected. But what odes it even look like when they have it?
The Great Imitator
Lyme disease has been called ‘The Great imitator’ because of how easily its symptoms can be confused with other diseases. In most cases it is transmitted by very small, immature ticks in their ‘nymph’ stage. If you don’t see the tick that caused the infection its hard to know the source of the confusing symptoms that Lyme disease presents. Part of the problem is that the symptoms are common in many prevalent diseases.
Common Signs of Lyme Disease include
- ‘Bulls-eye’ infection site
- Arthritis and joint pain
- Neuropathic Pain
The good news is, CBD is a great treatment for most, if not all those symptoms.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease and How CBD can Help
Widespread inflammation is one of the main symptoms of lyme disease in dogs. Inflammation can occur in the brain, muscles, cardiovascular system, but the most prominent site for this symptom is in the joints. Inflammation of the joints often causes pain and mobility problems that can be quite debilitating for our pets.
The various cannabinoids found in full-spectrum hemp extract are known for their powerful anti-inflammatory properties. CBD for joint pain is a common remedy because of its ability to modulate our pets immune response and reduce inflammation.
Elevated body temperature is another one of the ways our pets’ immune system responds to the bacteria that cause lyme disease. When chronic fever persists, it runs the risk of causing serious harm to many of our pets internal organs.
The immuno-modulatory effects of cannabis are well documented. One of the ways CBD can help with the fever associated with lyme disease is by increasing communication within the immune system and suppressing the fever response.
Dr. Shawn Meirovici, a Toronto-based naturopathic doctor specializing in pain management, cannabis is known to have “antipyretic or fever-reducing properties, due to its ability to suppress the immune system.”
Along with the joint pain that arises from the swelling ins and around our pets joints, there are a lot of other ways this disease causes extreme discomfort throughout the body. Your pet is likely to experience intense muscle and body aches, as well as neuropathic pain.
It’s actually pretty amazing how this plant can prevent and moderate pain. CBD and other cannabinoids change the way our pets’ brains perceive pain, making it less intense and more tolerable.
In both humans and dogs, nausea can be a chronic problem for those who have been infected with the borrelia bacteria. This can result in vomiting, dizziness and a general feeling of malaise.
One of the most common uses for cannabis is as a treatment for the side effects of cancer patients going through chemotherapy. Particularly, the commonly reported incidence of nausea as a result of these drugs.
It is especially important that the hemp extract is full-spectrum in this case because the ‘anti-emetic’, or anti-nausea comes from a variety of cannabinoids, not just CBD
You will often see animals who are suffering from lyme disease showing extreme exhaustion. They are slow moving, droopy and don’t have much energy to get around. Undoubtedly this is because of all the combination of different symptoms that are painful and uncomfortable, but also because of the way lyme robs our pets of sleep.
We all know how important rest is for the healing process. These restless nights mean our animals have a harder time recuperating from illness and infection.
Luckily, CBD is a great way to help our pets come to a place of rest and stay asleep. On our rescue, Fire Flake Farm, we see all sorts of dogs with different health conditions and levels of stress. When dogs arrive at our door they are often stressed out and showing obvious signs of illness. One of the best ways we can support them is by giving them the gift of a good night’s sleep.
Though less common than some of the other symptoms, dogs who have been infected with the bacteria may succumb to occasional seizures.
One of the most dramatic and studied benefits of therapeutic cannabis is CBD for dog seizures. We recommend using CBD for seizures both at the time of an episode and as a preventative measure.
What is the typical treatment for Lyme Disease in Dogs?
Lyme disease is caused by bacterial infection, so it stands to reason the best way to treat it would be with antibiotics, right?
That is typically the wisdom most veterinarians go by. If you are able to catch the infection in its early stages, there is a good chance you will be able to treat the bacteria effectively using antibiotics.
The issue is, oftentimes the disease is not discovered until symptoms start presenting themselves, at which point the bacteria is widespread throughout the body and is hard to target.
The Consequence of Using Antibiotics Long Term
By the time most pet parents notice their dog is presenting symptoms of Lyme, it is often too late for a quick solution to the problem. At this stage, antibiotics rarely are able to eradicate the bacteria from our pets bodies.
The result is that most veterinarians prescribe long term antibiotic treatments to keep the infection at bay.
Unfortunately, the overuse of antibiotics can be quite dangerous to our pets health. Among many reasons to avoid this therapy, is the risk of compromising the gut flora.
Not all bacteria is bad!
The good bacteria found in our pets’ GI tract is often collateral damage in the antibiotic treatment of the Lyme disease. As we know, the gut is central to our pets’ immune health. By upsetting this balance of good bacteria, we could end up seriously damaging our pets natural immunity and making them vulnerable to a whole host of infections and diseases.
Cannabis as an Antibiotic
According to research, cannabis has potential as a treatment for a variety of bacterial infections, including lyme disease. Cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBC and CBG have all been shown to have powerful antibiotic effects.
Boosting other Antibiotics
Not only does cannabis have potential as a primary antibiotic treatment for lyme disease, there is evidence that it may also boost the effects of other, conventional broad spectrum antibiotics typically used to treat the disease.
According to a study by the London Metropolitan University:
“When applied in combination with a range of antibiotics, CBD increased antibacterial effects of selected antibiotics, depending on bacteria type. CBD, in combination with specific antibiotics, may thus possibly be used as an adjuvant to selectively target bacteria to sensitize them to antibiotic treatment and reduce antibiotic resistance.”
The best way to treat lyme disease in dogs is preventatively.
As we’ve discussed, detection can be challenging once these ticks skiddadle. With Lyme disease, your best bet is to prevent the infection from happening rather than treating it after the fact.
Know where ticks are likely to live!
Ticks are commonly found in tall grass, bushy and heavily wooded areas or on other animals. If you are going to be in these kinds of areas, make sure you check your dogs thoroughly for tics after every walk.
Be careful how you remove these little buggers. They hold on tight and if you end up ripping them out and leaving the head, it is likely they will still infect your pet.
Deter them with natural repellent!
There are lots of great ways you can repel ticks. Try exploring different essential oils and natural products that will keep ticks away from your home and off your pets!
Check out this episode of the podcast, ‘It’s a Dog’s Life’, with Angela Ardolino for some great tips about natural tick repellent!
Good luck and remember the old saying:
When life gives you Lymes…
Make: full-spectrum hemp extract part of your routine to treat both symptom and cause.
About Carter Easler
Father of bulldog, Moo, Carter is a life-long animal lover from Toronto, Canada currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. Growing up in a family of veterinarians, he grew up surrounded by animals. He had dogs, cats, rodents, reptiles — you name it, and Carter probably rescued it.
Carter’s passion for cannabis activism started when he was in high school. After learning about the senseless prohibition and incredible diversity of cannabis’s utility, he was inspired to get involved. When Carter met Angela, he was excited to learn that he could combine his passions: animals and cannabis. Carter now travels North America to educate pet parents, retailers, and veterinarians about CBD. He is excited to bring his passion for pets to CBD Dog Health.
About Angela Ardolino
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.