Gus' Missed Diagnosis

Every dog can pick up an unwelcome deer tick here and there. Gus caught a number of them during one hiking trip. The ticks got discovered and identified after they returned back home.

About a month after the ticks hitching a ride on Gus, he started looking a bit "off".

He was more tired normally, his appetite decreased, and he was exhibiting shifting lameness on his front legs—major Lyme disease red flags.

Gus' blood test for Lyme came back negative.

However, his symptoms kept getting worse. Another test for Lyme and other tick borne diseases. A test for Leptospirosis. All negative. The only idiosyncrasy in Gus' blood work was moderate anemia. Gus was never anemic before his tick encounter!

Should Gus get treated for Lyme disease even though his tests were negative?

Gus' vet did not want to treat based on symptoms in the light of two negative tests.

Two weeks later, Gus ended up at the emergency hospital. His platelets were so low he almost bled out. His joints were so painful that he could barely move, his spleen was enlarged ...

At that point it wasn't even clear whether Gus might have Lyme disease or Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). The treatment for IMHA is high doses of steroids to suppress the immune system. What would such treatment do to a dog suffering with a Lyme?

Gus was tested for Lyme disease once again and this time it came back positive.

Finally, after all this time of suffering, Gus could get the treatment he needed.

Should Gus have been treated based on his history and symptoms in spite of the negative test results? What would you do?

Original story:
Misdiagnosis…Listen to Your Gut Instincts!

Related articles:
Lyme Is Lame (Pun Intended)
Lyme Disease: Treating Lab Results Versus Treating The Dog 
The Ticking Bomb


  1. I've heard that they can test negative and still have lymes. I was scared awhile back with Titan about it. Freaks me out to think you or our babes could have something fatal and us not even know. It's a tough call what I would do. Glad you caught it now. Hope Gus gets better soon.

    1. Well, technically, the scariest part is this: blood test measures antibodies. No antibodies means either no infection OR infection the body is not doing anything about. So really such scenario can actually be way worse than finding the antibodies *sigh


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