Watch out for Ticks! – Lyme Disease in Dogs

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is tick-borne disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.

How is Lyme Disease Transmitted?


Lyme Disease can be transmitted by four kinds of ticks. However, it is most often transmitted by the deer tick also known as the black legged tick. The deer tick is from the family Ixodidae. Ticks carrying bacteria are more common in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and the Pacific coast of the United States.  The tick must be attached for more than 24 hours to transmit infection, therefore, removing the tick immediately can reduce the risk of transmission.

Clinical Syptoms Include...

  • joint pain and swelling
  • anorexia
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • periodic lameness
  • lethargy
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • depression

Not all dogs exposed to Lyme disease will develop clinical symptoms. Cats are thought to be unaffected or clinically asymptomatic. 

How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?

Lyme Disease is often diagnosed based the patient’s symptoms and history. However, there is a blood test called 40X “ELISA” Snap test that can be used to diagnose Lyme disease, though, it is not a very definitive test because it can not differentiate between antibodies from a past or current infection nor antibodies formed from the vaccination.

What are the Treatment Options?

Antibiotics such as Doxycycline are used to treat Lyme disease. Multiple rounds of antibiotics may be necessary to rid your pet of the disease. Supportive care, such as anti-inflammatories for pain, is also required. Some pets may have lasting effects from the infection.

Is Lyme Disease Preventable?

 A vaccine is available to prevent ticks from infecting your pet. There are also other tick preventatives such as Seresto Collar, Frontline, Advantage, Revolution, Bravecto, K9 Advantix II and others. Do no give preventatives made for dogs to cats or vice versa. 

If you have recently taken your dog to a location that may have a large tick population, such as a forest scan their body afterwards for presence of ticks and remove them immediately.

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