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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Belle will often get a raised area from a tick bite, but this time two warning flags popped up: 1.) The tick was definitely a deer tick, and 2.) It was in the middle of a perfect round, red circle.

Now, I know the actual "bullseye" rash is rare in dogs, and this wasn't a bullseye exactly, but the red circle wasn't a normal reaction for a tick bite on Belle.

She never got her Lyme vaccination...I'm not big on vaccines and when I heard it's not 100% effective anyway, I didn't give it to her

The thing that concerns me is that apparently Lyme disease can cause kidney failure in dogs. It seems that the antibodies dogs produce - which aren't very effective against Lyme - can jam up in their kidneys. This has me very concerned because Belle is so tiny...I imagine her kidneys are like the size of kidney beans.

So I'm kind of afraid to just let Belle go untested and untreated unless symptoms emerge. What if she runs around all happy for a few years and then suddenly develops kidney failure?

But on the other hand, it seems like I'd be jumping the gun to rush her to the vet next week to get her tested. And since it's so soon, would the test be negative anyway?

I hope there's someone on here with more experience with Lyme who can clear up my misconceptions and give me some advice...it's hard (maybe impossible) to find reliable medical information on the Internet...
 

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Well there's very little reliable information about Lyme disease in dogs, period.

First of all, was the tick engorged? Ticks need to be attached and feeding for quite a long time (various references but depending on who you believe anywhere from 18-28 hours) to actually transmit Lyme disease. So if it wasn't engorged it likely didn't have time.

The last reliable statistics I've read indicate that something like 95% of dogs who are exposed to Lyme disease never get sick at all.

The kidney disease is a really idiosyncratic reaction and quite rare (although in some areas of the country it is more common than others). It's not fully understood why some dogs develop it and some don't, but it may be related to how an individual dog's immune system reacts to the disease. The theory is that an overexuberant immune response leads to antibody/antigen complexes gumming up the filtering mechanism of the kidneys, which ultimately damages them. Some people have speculated that dogs who were vaccinated for Lyme are more likely to have this reaction, but there really isn't any evidence of that. In some areas of the country it is much more common than others, so it's possibly related to a strain or variant.

The most common test only tests if your dog has been exposed, it doesn't test for a current, active infection. So without symptoms, a positive result is very tricky to interpret. Personally, I would wait and watch for symptoms. If you're very worried, you could ask your vet about chemoprophylaxis (that is, doing a course of antibiotics "just in case") - some vets are more/less open to doing this.
 

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I believe there is testing for Lyme. I'm not sure how long until it is detectable (the lyme disease) but you may ask your vet about it or how well it works but worth asking about.
As for her kidneys - everything (animal or human) immune system can overreact to whatever but her immune system is the same size ratio to her as her kidneys. If she is healthy otherwise her immune system is the "size" it should be as well and the two (her kidneys and immune system) should co-exist.
As for her kidneys getting "jammed up" that is more related to the disease than it is to the size of her kidneys.
I'd ask you vet to test her for lyme, ask about the stats associated with lyme and the vaccine.
Not all vaccines cause conversion to immunity all the time (although the conversion rate is high for most vaccines) - so I would talk to your vet about it, the risks and the likelihood of it working, along with the risks associated with lyme, treatment, etc.
 

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Her kidneys getting jammed up - kidney failure is less about things getting "jammed up" in her kidneys...
This is generally true, but in the case of Lyme-associated kidney disease it is actually what is thought to happen. Antigen/antibody complexes getting "stuck" in the filtering layers of the kidneys which in turn creates a localized increase in blood pressure (renal hypertension) which further damages the kidneys.
 

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Sassafras is correct it takes a while for the tick to transmit the disease. Some references say up to 36 hours or more. So if the tick isn't engorged you are likely safe. I think somewhere between 1-2% of ticks contain Lyme's disease in areas where it is considered common.

Apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound immediately after removing the tick. Your vet can test your dog for Lyme's but this requires blood work and I'm not sure how long it takes for it to show up. I think you can also have the tick itself tested for Lyme's which is likely to be a faster process.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'm definitely leaning towards "watching and waiting". But dogs can have lyme with no symptoms, right? I'm just afraid that I'll watch and wait, and no symptoms are present, and then she goes into kidney failure and dies. ...Does that ever happen?
 

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But dogs can have lyme with no symptoms, right?
Dogs can have antibodies against Lyme without having any symptoms. Generally those dogs are considered to have successfully fought off an infection.

I'm just afraid that I'll watch and wait, and no symptoms are present, and then she goes into kidney failure and dies. ...Does that ever happen?
There are a lot of things about Lyme disease in dogs that isn't understood. In my own personal experience, dogs either get sick from Lyme or not within a relatively short period of time of having been exposed to ticks. What makes it complicated is that many times people never actually found a tick on a dog with Lyme disease. So connecting a specific incident of known tick exposure to an incidence of Lyme disease can be difficult.
 
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