How is Lyme disease in dogs 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 does detect 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, or DNA testing, which is very specific and sensitive. However, not all dogs have the spirochete in their blood cells. If a blood sample is tested, a false