Dogs and Lyme Disease

Lyme disease (Borreliosis) is a serious bacterial disease spread by ticks (mainly deer ticks), that can be fatal to your dog if not caught in a timely manner.  When caught on time your dog can be effectively treated with antibiotics.  If you live in an area bountiful with ticks you will want to be sure you are checking your dog regularly to ensure he has not picked any up.  If you find that your dog does have a tick, either remove it, or bring your dog to the vet immediately to have it removed.  If you remove it yourself you can place the tick in a sealed plastic bag and bring it to the vet to be examined as they will know which ticks are carriers of Lyme disease.  It is important to note that it is possible that your dog may not display symptoms until 2 – 5 months later.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs: 


  • Inflammation of the joints causing feet and legs to become sore
  • Limping
  • Fever (normal body temperature for a dog is 101 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Lack of appetite and/or throwing up
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Area close to the infecting tick bite may be swollen
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stiff walk with an arched back

Usually a tick would need to be on your dog for at least a 24 hour period before it will transmit Lyme disease so getting the tick removed prior to that is crucial.  However, if you find a tick on your dog and you are not certain how long it has been there, you should keep a close eye on your dog, and should any symptoms appear, immediately take him to the vet to be examined.

Although humans can contract Lyme disease as well, you do not have to worry about catching it from your dog.  You would only catch it directly from a tick itself.

Even after treatment some dogs with Lyme disease develop recurrent or acute lameness of the limbs due to inflammation of the joints, and some may develop kidney problems.  If left completely untreated, total kidney failure sets in, and in rare cases neurological disabilities and heart abnormalities.

To help prevent Lyme disease do not let your dog roam in tick-infested areas, groom your dog daily checking and removing any ticks, and ask your vet about tick repelling sprays, collars, or topical products.  In addition, a vaccination for Lyme disease is available for dogs; however, there is some controversy around the subject and some vets do not feel it is effective enough to be worthwhile.  This can be discussed with your vet, especially if you are in a high risk area.

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