Signs And Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs



Knowing the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs is vital because this disease is a very common infectious disease in the United States. Also, Lyme disease in dogs is considered one of the most common tick-transmitted conditions in the world. Therefore, today we are going to discuss all the details about it.

But, before we begin our article, you must know that this topic is controversial amongst experts and veterinarians because most dogs that test positive are not clinically ill. That means it is challenging to conclude which dogs should be treated.

Nevertheless, Lyme disease is transmitted to humans and dogs alike by the adult, and nymph stages of the tick called a black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis. This tick infects dogs and us with the bacteria spirochete bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes the disease.

As mentioned in a study,” In New England, around 50-75% of dogs tested may be favorable for Lyme disease.” But, you can still find the disease mostly in other areas throughout the United States and Europe but is most widespread in the Pacific coastal states, upper Midwestern states, and the Atlantic seaboard.

Nonetheless, only 10% of the affected dogs show symptoms due to Lyme disease.


What Is Lyme Disease In Dogs?

Knowing what is Lyme disease in dogs is our first step to understanding this disease more. It all started with a very tiny tick! This black-legged tick lives in tall grasses, woods, thick brush, and marshes. They are waiting for a passing dog to transmit the Lyme disease’s bacteria once it is attached to a dog for anywhere between 24-48 hours.

Even though Lyme disease can be found in every state, the infection‘s risks vary. Also, only in few cases of infected dogs (around 10%) shows symptoms.

However, due to the different changes in our natural areas and forests, so many animals and birds migrating. Problems such as deforestation force different animals to migrate to different regions which alter these numbers and they are always changing.

These ticks can’t fly or jump; they crawl to the dog body. Once there is direct contact with the dog’s body and the grass where this tick lives, it quickly crawls to find the best place on the body to bites it.


Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are not common in infected dogs. Only a few show these symptoms. However, many of these dogs who developed Lyme disease already have recurrent inflammation of the joints (recurrent Lameness).

Usually, the Lameness lasts for only a few days (3-4 days) but recurs weeks later. In some cases, the Lameness may recur in the same leg or different legs, which is known as “shifting-leg lameness.”

 The problem starts when the dog develops significant issues such as kidney problems, which sometimes leads to inflammation and dysfunction of the kidney (glomerulonephritis).

Ultimately, kidney failure may develop, and therefore it will show symptoms of kidney failure such as increased urination and thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lack of appetite, and abnormal fluid buildups.

Other symptoms connected with Lyme disease in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Lameness (Three Types: can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
  • Generalized stiffness (Stiff walk with an arched back)
  • Discomfort
  • Pain
  • Swelling of joints
  • Depression
  • Swollen superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the bite
  • Nervous system complications (rare)
  • Heart abnormalities (rare)


Diagnosis Of Lyme Disease In Dogs

First, your veterinarian will go through a detailed history of your dog’s health and the symptoms you noticed, this will give them a good idea about the affected organs and will help them to pinpoint the diagnosis.

Following that, your vet will run some lab tests, such as blood chemistry, urinalysis, fecal examinations, and serology tests specific for Lyme disease.

Besides, other tests may be performed, such as the fluid from the affected joints. Also, your vet will perform radiological imagining (x-ray for the painful joints) to check for any abnormalities and to differentiate between Lyme disease from other joint problems, which may cause arthritis, such as trauma and degenerative joint diseases.

Veterinarians perform two tests that detect antibodies against a protein called C6. These two blood tests are called Quant C6 and C6 tests. Identifying this protein suggests that Lyme infection is active.

Furthermore, the C6 antibodies can be found in the bloodstream three to five weeks after the infected tick bites your dog. Also, it can be detected even before the dog shows any signs of illness.

After that, your vet will conduct the Quant C6 test, which comes along with urinalysis, and it helps to determine which the best antibiotics for the treatment.


Lyme Disease In Dogs Treatment

Your vet will treat your dog as an outpatient unless it is a serious condition such as severe Kidney disease or kidney failure. They will start giving your dog antibiotic (Doxycycline is the most commonly used antibiotic in Lyme disease). The treatment will be for at least a month, and your vet may give it longer than that if necessary.

Your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and pain killers. 

Sadly, antibiotic treatment may not be effective in some cases to eliminate the bacteria causing Lyme disease. Therefore, in some cases, the symptoms may recur after resolving the medications. But, Proper treatment and the use of antibiotics reduces the likelihood of chronic consequences.

Management Of Your Dog’s Life 

As in any disease, you must be taking care of your dog’s needs. Keeping your dog hydrated and well-fed and follow your vet’s prescription is necessary to improve the overall health of your dog.

Improvement in acute inflammation of the joints caused by Borrelia bacteria should be noticed within 3-5 days of antibiotic intake. If there is no improvement within a week, your veterinarian will need to reevaluate your dog’s condition.


Lyme Disease in Dogs Prevention

Avoiding allowing your dog to play in areas where tick lives in is the best thing you can do. Of course, this is the best to do where Lyme disease is common. There are areas known as a tick-infested environment.

Educating yourself about the areas where ticks mostly live is another best thing you can do as a dog owner. That way, you would want to avoid these areas and limit your dog’s from roaming there.

Checking your dog’s coat and skin every day is an important task you can do. If you find any tick remove it by hand.   

Also, your veterinarian can prescribe a variety of prescriptions flea and tick collars, oral and topical products that kill and revolt ticks.

Without a doubt, any product you are planning to use should be under your veterinarian’s supervision and according to the directions. 

Although vaccinations against Lyme disease is somewhat controversial, it is available, and you can ask your vet about it, and they will decide what the best for your dog in its condition is.


After going through all the details and knowing all the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs, you know now all that necessary to protect your dog from this infection. As a dog owner, there are so many things you have to take care of, such as providing your dog with the best toys, or the best dog camera to keep an eye on your dog and make sure your dog is happy and healthy.

To prevent Lyme disease in dogs from developing, you must keep an eye on your dog even outside while playing. Make sure always to keep your dog happy; after all, your dog is part of your family.

So finally, I hope you found this article useful and informative. Let me know your answer down below. What do you think about this disease? Do you have more information or tips about what is Lyme disease in dogs and the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs? Write them down below.

If you have any other questions or different opinions about it, leave a comment below.

Today’s Quote:

“When an 85 pound mammal licks your tears away, and then tries to sit on your lap, it’s hard to feel sad!” — Kristan Higgins


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4 years ago

This is a very important article for anyone who owns a dog, I just lost my dog last week and I really took it harder than I imagined I would.

I do have one question about Lymes Disease, I did take my dog to his vet the past several months to be treated for being so sick all of a sudden. Anyway, he did not test positive for Lymes Disease and I was just wondering if you know if Lymes Disease can cause tumors in dogs, and if not maybe you could write an article on tumors in dogs in the future for all us dog lovers.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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