Lyme Disease In Dogs – Top 10 Things To Know

Lyme disease in dogs is very common. It is caused mainly by tick bites and occurs mainly in the summer months when the weather is warmer and dogs spend more time playing outside in tall grass.

Lyme Disease In Dogs

Because of this many pet owners come home from their camping or hiking summer vacations with ticks on their dogs, which cause the dreaded Lyme disease.

Common symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is not easily recognized right away but more often than not dog owners will see symptoms within 72 hours after a tick bite. If you think you are seeing these symptoms within 24 hours you may want to hold off your trip to the veterinarian at least until 24 hours have passed.

Some of the symptoms that will come about at early onset include;

Lameness of the Limbs

Many dogs will experience chronic lameness to the limbs after being affected due to the fact that their joints would be inflamed. The minority of dogs may experience acute lameness that will last between 3 and 4 days but it will be ongoing for weeks on end.

You will notice that your dog will have continuous lameness in one leg or it will switch from one leg to another which is commonly referred to as “shifting-leg lameness”. This particular symptom has proven to respond well to a round of antibiotic treatments.

Kidney Problems

A more severe symptom of lyme disease in dogs is a problem with their kidneys. If you were to leave this symptom without treatment it could lead to glomerulonephritis which leads to inflammation and dysfunctional kidneys.

Eventually without treatment it will turn into total kidney failure and your dog will exhibit symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Increased urination
  • Fluid build up in the tissues
  • Laziness or fatigue
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

Visible Problems

Although there are internal problems that your dog can have there are some visible symptoms that can alert you as well:

  • Stiff walking
  • Touch sensitive
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inflammation of their joints

Although lyme disease is a commonly known disease that affects a large amount of the population per year, it is still a debilitating disease that can bring forth a slew of detrimental effects, especially to your pets.

When you allow your dog to run through a field and/or a forest, you should always inspect their body for ticks to ensure that one hasn’t latched onto their skin. In some ways, dogs react worse than humans to lyme disease and so the effects can be extremely detrimental to their bodily functions.

Between vomiting, lameness in legs, and flu-like symptoms, dogs exhibit an immense amount of symptoms relating to lyme disease. If you have noticed any of the above ailments, you should book an immediate appointment with your local veterinarian to ensure that your dog is put on the antibiotics that they need.

Some of these symptoms may be easier than others to identify. For example after coming home from a long trip you may find your dog’s desire to sleep longer than usual as him or her being tired from the trip. Dehydration, fever and lack of appetite are the most apparent symptoms.

Serious Complications

If left untreated your dog could develop serious complications such as infections, kidney failure and (in extreme cases) death. Hence you want to ensure that you pay attention to your dog’s attitude especially after you have spent time outside in areas where he may have been susceptible to tick bites. This will help you to provide your best friend with the treatment he needs to save his life ultimately.

When you see these symptoms the first thing you need to do is get to your veterinarian. Once here they will ask you a couple background questions such as if the dog has been taking medications for tick prevention and where the dog has been in recent times.

If you had done an examination prior to taking your dog to the vet and found a tick you should have removed it and taken it along. It is best to keep it in alcohol for the ride.

Since there are only four types of ticks that can transmit Lyme disease your vet will be able to tell right away the chances of your dog suffering from the disease or not.

The vet will do blood work and if this finds it conclusive that your dog does have the disease they will be prescribed a course of antibiotics. Once your dog is taking their medication properly you will see the symptoms dissipating quickly.

Don’t stop the treatment no matter how well your dog seems to be taking it but instead let it run the entire course of treatment. The treatment may be prescribed for a week or two and even then there may be traces of the disease still left behind in the dog’s body but towards the end their bodies will be able to deal with any trace of the disease that is left behind.

More About Lyme Disease In Dogs

The black-legged Tick spreads a bacterial infection through its bite. The bacteria are called Borrelia burgdorferi and the infection is called Lyme disease. The disease one of the most commonly transmitted Tick-disease present. The Tick is infected when it bites deer mice that are carrying the infection.

Dogs get infected when bitten by an infectious Tick, and this spreads throughout its body. The tick usually has to be on the dog’s body for almost 48 hours for this disease to be transmitted. It usually takes 2-5 months before any symptoms are visible. It can be a very serious condition if Lyme disease in dogs is not treated urgently.

It breaks down the immune system and Chronic Lyme disease can occur. This may damage the heart muscles and nerves and also can develop into arthritis in the joints which can cripple the animals.

This can also lead to glomerulonephritis which causes inflammation and damages to the kidney which can lead to death. The possible damages to the joint can be temporary and may last long after animal is treated.

A dog is most likely to get the infection during tick season, which is from April to November, but they can get infected at any time of the year. In earlier years, the disease was mostly found in shelties and retrievers but as the years pass by, more dogs of other breeds have been diagnosed with the disease.


Some dogs do not show any symptoms, the disease is recognized by testing at their vets. For those dogs that do not get frequent check-ups, one of the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs is the animal’s lack of appetite. The animal will show no interest in whatever is going on around it.

More Serious In Younger Dogs

The dog joints weaken, become sore and painful, which results in the stiffed arched-back walk. Lyme disease in dogs is more serious in younger dogs than older ones. Lyme disease in dogs may cause the animal to have difficulty when breathing, fever and make them very sensitive to touch and they will have swollen joints and also swollen lymph nodes.

If the animal shows any of these symptoms, testing can be done to confirm the disease and it can be cured by vaccination. Antibiotic can also be used but only if the disease has been detected early, otherwise it will not respond to the antibiotic. Do not administer pain medicines to a dog unless advised by a vet.

Treatment usually lasts as long as 4 weeks and animals should be kept warm and dry at all times during the treatment. Try your best to avoid going into environments which have a possibility of being tick prone with your dog. The best way to prevent Lyme disease in dogs is to clean the ticks of your dog frequently if they are exposed to ticks.

There are various ways in which to do this. Make it your responsibility to bring your dog for regular checkups at a vet. When removing a tick from a dog, be careful in your procedure as if you crush the tick you may infect the animal more.

You don’t have to worry; Lyme disease in dogs cannot be transmitted to humans or other animals.

Lyme Disease Vaccine For Dogs

Lyme disease has become the most tick-transmitted disease in the world. While there is no treatment to protect humans from this disease. There is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs that are available. Lyme disease is caused by an organism known as a spirochaete and it is named Borrelia burgdorferi.

It is carried by ticks and transferred to the person or animal when bitten. It is a disease that is worldwide and has been around for centuries with Chinese records providing written documentation on a disease with similar symptoms.

It is a disease that is concentrated mostly in the Northeast in the United States with California and Michigan having cases as well. While humans and dogs are the ones that get the disease majority of the time, some cats have been diagnosed with it as well.

So what do you need to consider before you go about and get the Lyme disease vaccine for dogs? First not all dogs need the vaccine. Your dog might not be in an area where the disease is currently at and while this is not 100% protection as birds, squirrels and other animals can enter your yard bringing the ticks with them, it is a good place to start.

Next would be to consult with your veterinarian and see what they might be experiencing. Chances are they will be able to let you know if the threat exists in your area and if you should take the precautionary steps at protecting your beloved pet.

There are always risks associated with vaccines so taking caution is always a good thing when it comes to your dog.

Many Types Of Vaccine

There are many types of Lyme Disease vaccine for dogs available and most of them are administered yearly. There are three different types of Lyme disease vaccine for dogs and each one is slightly different in how they work to battle this disease.

Fort Dodge’s Vaccine introduces a small amount of dead Lyme disease bacteria into the dogs system. These ensures that if the dog becomes infected that the body will have a small amount of anti-bodies already to rapidly reproduce to fight off the Lyme disease.

The next Lyme disease vaccine for dogs is the Merial’s Vaccine. It produces the protein that the tick uses when feeding and that hides the Lyme disease as it spreads throughout the blood stream.

The last one is called Intervet-Schering-Plough’s Vaccine and it is similar to Merial’s Vaccine in that it targets the protein in the tick’s saliva. The added benefits of this type of vaccine is that it fights the bacteria simultaneously.

There is no reason to not seek out a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs if you are worried about your family pet becoming infected. Lyme disease is a dangerous disease that affects dogs and humans alike and has become more of a problem over the last decade.