Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is a common tick-borne disease that is found in people and pets across the United States. In people and dogs, Lyme disease can lead to chronic symptoms like kidney failure and joint pain or arthritis if not promptly caught and treated. Here, our Ventura vets share some of the causes, symptoms and treatment for Lyme disease in dogs, as well as the impact of chronic Lyme on your canine companion's life.


Causes of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease has been diagnosed in people and dogs across all states. But the infection rates vary from one state to another. In the US, the Upper Midwest, Northeast and Pacific Coast report the highest annual cases of Lyme disease in dogs. 

This disease is contracted through the bite of an infected tick. These external parasites are often found in grassy or wooded areas, from farm fields to forests

Since ticks can't jump or fly, they find prey by resting on the tips of leaves or blades of grass and wait for direct contact with pets or people.

Lyme disease isn't contagious, but an infected tick that bites one dog may make its way to another pet or person to spread the disease further.

Symptoms of Lyme disease in Dogs

Dogs will often carry Lyme disease without showing any symptoms. Some dogs, however, suffer from symptoms that cause them pain and discomfort. If your dog has Lyme disease, they may show any of the following symptoms:

  • Lameness
  • Stiffness
  • High fever
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Swollen inflamed joints
  • General lethargy or discomfort
  • Decreased appetite and depression 
  • Breathing difficulties

Chronic Effects of Lyme Disease in Dogs

If your dog's case of Lyme disease isn't promptly identified and treated, the condition can become life-threatening. 

Lyme disease, if left to run its course or treated too late, Lyme disease can cause kidney failure, serious heart problems, neurological issues and long-term joint pain and arthritis in your pup.

How is Lyme Disease Is Diagnosed in Dogs

If your vet thinks your dog may be suffering from Lume disease, they will review their medical history, ask about any instances where your pup may have come into contact with ticks and perform a range of diagnostic tests, from x-rays to bloodwork.

Lyme Disease in Dogs Prognosis & Treatment

Treatment for Lyme disease in dogs generally includes a course of antibiotics that lasts for at least four weeks. If your pup is especially uncomfortable, the vet can also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to help relieve your pet's pain.

Lyme Disease Prevention in Dogs

Keeping your pup on tick-prevention medication is one way of keeping them safe from contracting Lyme disease. 

As well, whenever you dog has been walking through areas that may serve as a hiding spot for ticks, you should check you pet's skin and remove any ticks as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of transmitting disease.

That said, removing ticks isn't as straightforward as you may think. Contact your vet for instruction on how to properly remove ticks from your dog. (Your vet may request that you keep the tick for testing).

Remember - Lyme disease is much more severe in humans than it is in dogs! If you walk in areas with long grass or shrubs be sure to check your skin regularly for ticks. Contact your doctor for advice on removing ticks if you find one latched onto your skin. Lyme disease in humans can cause a host of painful chronic symptoms.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of Lyme disease? Contact Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG)today to book an examination for your canine companion.

Lyme Disease in Dogs | Ventura Animal Hospital

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