Canine Lyme Disease

Do you understand your dog’s risk of exposure to canine Lyme disease? All dogs need to be walked, right? Yes, they do at least twice a day. And usually unless you have an indoor track you walk them outside, right? Yes, I would think so.

So what is one of the only downfalls to walking outside and in grass? Unfortunately, many dogs that are walked outside are exposed to ticks and disease from ticks. It is very likely that your dog will get at least 3 ticks in his or her lifetime and maybe they will get a disease if it has been infected and has the disease itself.

Below are some frequently asked questions about dog Lyme disease to help you better understand what is needed to protect your dog from tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme.

What is Lyme disease?

deer tick lyme disease tic

Lyme disease is a disease carried and transmitted by ticks, particularly deer ticks. If your dog has been bitten by a tick, it is usually a good idea to get him checked out at the vet, especially if he experiences the symptoms of canine Lyme disease.

How can I tell if my dog has Lyme disease?

Dog Lyme disease symptoms vary greatly. Many dogs show no symptoms of the disease, and others may not show symptoms for 2-6 months after the dog contracted Lyme disease. Many dogs are diagnosed with Lyme disease during their normal veterinary visits.

For those dogs that do show symptoms of the disease, some will develop a fever from canine Lyme disease. Other symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include painful, swollen joints and front leg lameness, appearing similar to canine arthritis, and swollen or enlarged lymph nodes. Later in the disease, your dog may become quite lethargic and lose his appetite.

Remember that some dogs do not get a fever or any of the other dog Lyme disease symptoms, so just because your dog doesn’t have a fever doesn’t mean he doesn’t have Lyme disease. If your dog isn’t eating as much and has the other symptoms, even if you have not seen a dog tick bite, this disease may be the reason. If your dog has any of the above symptoms, you should go see your vet anyway, because these are the most common symptoms of canine Lyme disease, and even if your dog does not have the disease, these symptoms suggest that your dog is sick.

Is canine Lyme disease treatable?

canine lyme disease beagl

Yes, if you go to your vet early enough, canine Lyme disease is very treatable. Usually, your veterinarian will prescribe some canine antibiotics and, after a few weeks, your dog is fine. For dogs experiencing minor joint pain as a result of canine Lyme disease, a prescription anti-inflammatory may be prescribed to help control your dog’s discomfort.

Sometimes, however, it can be too late to begin treatment for Lyme disease in dogs, and that is why you should go to your vet immediately if your dog experiences Lyme disease symptoms. Chronic dog Lyme disease can result in long-term joint pain or lameness and even canine kidney disease or kidney failure. For dogs with chronic Lyme disease, sadly, most times their symptoms are not treatable.

If you have seen tick on your dog and your dog is acting fine, you should still go just to be sure that your dog will be fine. Fortunately, there are blood tests to check for Lyme disease in dogs.

Can you get Lyme disease from anything other than ticks?

Yes, a recent study showed that you can get Lyme disease from almost any insect that bites. Spiders, fleas, flies, gnats, mosquitoes, and black flies can all give you or your dog Lyme disease. Many insects carry the bacteria that causes Lyme.

Ticks, however, and in particular, deer ticks, are the most common carrier of Lyme disease. Dogs that are bitten usually only have a 1% chance of being infected, unless you live in a high risk area where Lyme disease is more prevalent. If you live in a high risk area, your dog usually has a 5% chance of being infected after being bitten. This is why you should always check to be sure.

Are there forms of Lyme disease prevention in dogs?

Yes, there are many ways to prevent canine Lyme disease, or to at least minimize your dog’s risk of contracting the disease. Although controversial and typically evaluated on a case-by-case basis, there is a canine Lyme disease vaccine. This Lyme disease shot for dogs is still fairly new and there are questions about how effective the vaccine is. However, discussing it with your veterinarian would be wise.

Another great way to practice Lyme disease prevention in dogs is to apply a monthly dog flea and tick medicine, such as Frontline. These dog medications prevent flea and tick bites when applied as directed, and therefore greatly reduce your dog’s risk.

Is my dog at risk for canine Lyme disease?

It is always better to be on the safe side if your dog is experiencing any Lyme disease symptoms. Bringing him or her to the vet is always a smart idea, especially if you know you live in a high risk area. If you don’t not know if you live in one or not, you can search for the actual statistics using the map on this site. It is always a good idea to know where you are on the scale so you can better protect your dog.

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