Lyme disease in dogs is cause by ticks and is on the riseWhen the weather turns nice, we’re all itching to get outside with our dogs. Whether that means hiking, camping, or backyard barbeques, keeping our best friend safe from pests tops the list of dangers to watch out for during outdoor season. One such pest, the tick, can be particularly irritating.

Ticks can cause a host of illnesses, including Lyme disease. Lyme disease is one of the most insidious and complex diseases that veterinarians deal with on a regular basis. Let The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital give you the details of Lyme disease in dogs, so you’ll know what to watch for this summer and beyond.

Lyme Disease in Dogs 101

Lyme disease is a common, stubborn, and problematic tick-borne disease for dogs and humans alike. Transmitted by the deer tick (sometimes referred to as the black-legged tick) and the western black-legged tick, Lyme disease in dogs is an infection that often leads to lameness.

When an infected tick bites your dog, the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi is transmitted to your dog’s bloodstream. Once infected, your dog may not show symptoms for several weeks or even months afterward, which is why Lyme disease in dogs is so frustrating to diagnose.

Signs and Symptoms

Unfortunately, symptoms of Lyme disease may come and go, and also mimic signs of other health conditions. And, many dogs exhibit no signs at all. Finally, while the “bull’s eye” rash at the site of the tick bite is a common and well-known sign of human Lyme disease infection, dogs show no such indicator.

Below are symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs:

  • Shifting leg lameness that may be intermittent (come and go)
  • Reluctance to move
  • Sore, painful joints
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or depression

Lyme disease in dogs results in mild to severe cases, with severe cases sometimes resulting in kidney failure and death.

If your dog has been in tick infested areas, and they are exhibiting these signs, it’s best to bring them in to see us as soon as possible.

Lyme Disease Prevention in Dogs

Because Lyme disease in dogs is transmitted after a tick has been attached for 50 or more hours, checking your dog for ticks and removing them daily is an important way to prevent the disease.

There is a vaccine for the prevention of Lyme disease. Talk to us about whether or not this might benefit your dog.

Other ideas for lyme disease prevention include:

Learn how to safely remove ticks

  • Keep your dog out of tick infested areas (if possible)
  • Use a monthly tick prevention product administered year-round
  • Consider adding a tick prevention collar for when your dog does go into tick habitat
  • Consider annual tick-borne disease screening

If we suspect your dog has come into contact with ticks and may be at risk, we’ll conduct tick-borne disease testing, which identifies the bacteria in blood and tissues. If infected, your dog will be treated with specific antibiotics and monitored closely.  

By monitoring closely and using effective preventive measures, together we can prevent your dog from ever experiencing this troublesome disease. If you have any questions about Lyme disease in dogs or tick prevention, please don’t hesitate to call us.