lyme disease causes and symptoms in dogs

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Common Symptoms & Lyme Treatments

Lyme disease is something that many deal with on a daily basis in the United States. But did you know that it can affect your pet? Lyme disease in dogs is something that every dog owner should know about. 

The top things you should know about lyme disease in dogs:

  • Symptoms of lyme disease
  • Causes of lyme disease
  • Lyme disease prevention
  • Common treatments for lyme disease

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

If your dog spends any amount of time outside, especially in warmer seasons or if you live in warmer climates, tick borne diseases are a risk. Lyme disease is the most common tick borne disease contracted by dogs. It’s a disease that can attack your dog’s nervous system, as well as their lymphatic system. So what common symptoms and signs should you look for in your dog?

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs
Be on the lookout for common symptoms of lyme disease in your pet

Lyme Disease Symptoms Affecting Dogs

  • Swollen joints (often accompanied by a limp)
  • Lethargy
  • Kidney disease
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever

These symptoms will often happen shortly after your dog has been bitten by an infected tick. It’s important to take your pet to the vet immediately as soon as you notice any of these symptoms and similar behavior. 

Causes of Lyme Disease in Your Dog 

Lyme disease occurs when your dog has been bitten by an infected tick. The species of tick, the black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, carries the spiral-shaped bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. These ticks are found in the woods and tall grass, but your pet can pick them up almost anywhere, and at almost any time.

Many pet owners think that tick season ends when it gets cold outside. You may think that ticks die off in the winter and your pet is safe, but that isn’t true. Most ticks do reduce their activity, but they don’t die. If you live in regions that have mild winters, the chances of ticks staying active are especially high.

deer tick or black legged tick
A black-legged tick or deer tick is the culprit of lyme disease

Lyme disease is only contracted through the bite of an infected tick. Pets cannot pass lyme disease to each other. But if you have multiple pets and one is diagnosed with lyme disease, it would be a good idea to have your other pets tested if they spend time in the same areas as the pet that’s infected. You may also want to get yourself and other members of your family tested for lyme disease.

So what can you do to help prevent your dog from contracting lyme disease?

Preventing Lyme Disease in Pets

There are several ways to prevent lyme disease in dogs.

lyme disease prevention in dogs
Use flea and tick preventative year-round!

1. Flea & Tick Preventative Products

Using the right flea and tick preventative can go a long way in protecting your dog from lyme disease. But before you go to your local superstore or pet store and just grab something off of the shelf, talk to your PetWellClinic vet about the best option for your dog when it comes to tick control.

2. Lyme Disease Vaccination

While there isn’t a lyme disease vaccine available to humans, there are vaccine options for your dog. It’s best to work directly with your vet and discuss whether this is a good option for your dog or not. Their advice may vary based on where you live and what you and your pet’s lifestyle is like.

3. Avoid Common Areas Where Ticks are Found

One of the best ways to prevent tick bites and lyme disease is to avoid areas that are known to attract ticks. As mentioned earlier, ticks usually hang out in wooded areas, in tall grass, and similar areas.

4. Check for Ticks!

If you and your dog enjoy going on hikes and spending time outside, you shouldn’t stop doing those things out of fear of lyme disease. However, you can be vigilant to check yourself and your dog for ticks after doing outdoor activities. Using bug spray on yourself, and making sure your pet is up to date on tick preventative before you go outside is also important.

5. Take Care of Your Yard

Keeping your yard well-groomed and manicured can also help in preventing lyme disease in your dog. Make sure the grass is kept short, clear out/prune any large shrubs, and give your dog the best chance to enjoy their life outside without fear of getting lyme disease.

Treatments for Lyme Disease

Veterinarians are able to confirm if a dog has lyme disease through blood tests. Antibiotic treatment is often an effective way to treat lyme disease in dogs. Your vet will be able to assess how much and how long your dog will need to be on the antibiotics, and it’s important to follow their instructions closely. 

If your pet has dealt with undetected lyme disease for a long time, there’s a chance they could suffer from extensive damage to their body, especially their nervous system. If this is the case, your veterinarian will be able to discuss further treatment and ways to manage any chronic conditions caused by lyme disease.

As a pet owner, lyme disease can be a scary thing to battle alongside your pet. But following your vet’s instructions closely if your dog is diagnosed with lyme disease, and supporting your pet in whatever way they need goes a long way in your pet’s recovery.

pet recovery from lyme disease
Your vet can help your pet with recovery from lyme disease

PetWellClinic is dedicated to being here for pet owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. Talk to our vets about tick and lyme disease prevention in your dog today!

PetWellClinic provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic has locations and services built with convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet any time! No appointment necessary. 

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