Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is a condition found in dogs. This condition is a transmitted trough ticks. Borrelia Burgdorferi is the bacterium that causes this condition. It may transmit from one animal to the other through ticks in the body. Most common vector for Lyme disease are different ticks such as deer ticks, taiga ticks, castor beans ticks (these are found in sheep) and black legged ticks, etc. Generally, all ticks are known to cause blood borne diseases such as anaplasmosis, spotted fever, canine ehrlichiosis, etc. The process of Lyme disease transmission starts with a deer; the ticks bites the deer or rodent who is infected and passes the disease to dogs and sometimes even humans.

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Not all ticks are infected or carry the infection. However, if you along with your pet dwell in an area where incidences of Lyme disease is common, then your dog is at increased risk of suffering from the condition. Ticks will be around if there is a habitat of wild life, particularly rodent or deer. It is said that most dogs can resist the bacteria that causes the condition; however, around 5% to 10% dogs develop infection. As the dog evolves and becomes more dangerous more dog may get affected with the condition. A dog that is constantly bitten by ticks is at higher risk of developing the condition then those dogs who are lesser a victim to tick bites.

It is essential to remove ticks earlier as this will reduce the possibility of getting affected with Lyme disease; however, the risk of the condition is never completely void. Transmission of the disease can be avoided by removing an embedded tick within 24 hours. It is also studied that larval ticks can transmit the condition more easily than fully grown ticks.  Treating the issue may become difficult as the time passes by and gap between time of infection and treatment increases.


Lyme disease in dogs is recorded throughout the world. In places where deer are not present rodent can serve as medium for transmission of ticks. In the United States highest number of transmission of Lyme disease is in the upper Midwestern states. There is also considerably higher number of Lyme disease cases recorded in the pacific coastal state and Atlantic seaboard region. There are some states that dominate the count of Lyme diseases cases. These states are Connecticut, New Hampshire and State of Delaware. Global warming has contributed to increasing population of ticks worldwide. Thus this poses greater risk of Lyme disease for dogs as well as humans.

It is also said that as urbanization encroaches wilderness the chances of tick related Lyme disease is also increasing.  Ticks are usually present in warm environments, so regions with colder winter season will experience less tick bite during winter, but during summer occurrence of ticks will increase. Regions that are warm throughout the year ticks will be present always.

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Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs

There is a range of signs and symptoms that may indicate that a dog is affected with Lyme disease. The said bulls-eye rash that is commonly seen in tick-bitten human is not present in dogs. The symptoms of the condition experienced by dogs may vary. Some of the common symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Joint pain or swelling of the joints
  • Leg lameness which may start spontaneously and persist for 3 days to 4 days
  • Dog not eating food properly
  • Depressed dog
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Fever
  • Unwilling to move or perform any activity

Some other symptoms that are associated with Lyme disease include:

  • Dog walking stiffly with arched back
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lymph node being superficial at the site of tick-bite that caused infection

Some of the rare complications that occur when the condition aggravates are:

  • Kidney issues
  • Rare nervous system disorder
  • Heart complications

The symptoms of this condition can be recurrent. One of the most common recurring issues of Lyme disease in dogs is lameness caused due to joint inflammation. Sometimes recurring lameness may not affect the same leg but another leg. This condition is called ‘shifting-leg lameness’.

lyme disease in dogs

Treatment for Lyme disease in dogs

Once the prevalence of the condition is been confirmed, veterinarian will often suggest antibiotic based treatment which is the first line of treatment of the condition. The prognosis of the disease is better if the disease is treated earlier. This also increases the odds of antibiotics working better against the infection. Most of the dogs with Lyme disease can be treated at home unless their condition appears to be severe. The dog should be given rest and should be kept in a warm and dry environment unless his health improves. In some dogs the symptoms of the condition may not ebb away completely. For example, joint pain may continue even after the bacterial infection has been eradicated completely.

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