Signs & Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is a common disease transmitted by ticks. In today’s post, our Greensboro vets describe symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs, and what you should do if you think your pooch may have Lyme disease. 


What is Lyme disease in dogs?

This infectious disease can impact dogs, humans and other animals. A bacteria called Borrelia, which is often carried and transmitted by deer ticks (also referred to as blacklegged ticks), causes Lyme disease.

If infected birds, deer, mice and other animals carrying Lyme are bitten by deer ticks, that tick becomes infected and will then pass the infection along to another animal during a bite.

Where do ticks carrying Lyme Disease live?

Though Lyme disease has been seen in dogs across the US, higher rates of infection are typically seen in the Upper Midwest, Northeast and the Pacific coast.

Though ticks do not jump or fly, they do lurk on the tips of grass blades, leaves and in shrubs with their first legs outstretched, awaiting direct contact with people or animals so they can latch on to their new host. Ticks are typically found in areas with brush land, farm fields, long grass or forested areas.

As you can imagine, this leaves nature lovers and their pets at risk. If you’re walking your dog through areas where ticks may be lying in wait, it’s a good idea to check your dog (and yourself) for ticks once you arrive home.

If you see a tick on your pet, contact your vet for guidance on how to safely remove this parasite from your dog’s skin. Humans suffer from Lyme disease much more than some other animals. Contact your doctor for tips on how to remove ticks if you discover that one has found its way onto your body.

What are symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?

Keep in mind that some dogs may carry Lyme disease and not show any symptoms. That said, common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Swollen joints
  • General malaise or discomfort
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Generalized stiffness
  • Lameness due to inflamed joints
  • Lack of appetite and depression

If left untreated, Lyme disease symptoms in dogs can cause heart damage, as well as damage to the kidneys and nervous symptoms. For dogs that are chronically infected, a life-threatening form of kidney inflammation and dysfunction (Lyme nephropathy or Lyme nephritis) can develop.

Likely caused by an abnormal immune response, this condition may cause kidney failure. Severe cases of Lyme disease can be fatal. The disease can also cause serious neurological and cardiac complications.

How is Lyme disease in dogs diagnosed?

If you see signs of Lyme disease in your dog, make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible.

At Guilford-Jamestown Veterinary Hospital, we provide vaccinations and parasite prevention, as well as diagnosis and treatment for a variety of internal conditions, including challenging cases. Our vets have a number of diagnostic tools and treatment methods at their disposal, and can manage patients with multiple disorders and diseases.

If your vet suspects that your dog may have Lyme disease, they will do a thorough review of their medical history, then complete a number of tests.

These may include blood tests (typically C6 Test and Quant C6 Tests), x-rays, fecal exam and urine analysis. In some circumstances, your vet may draw fluid from your dog’s affected joints so it can be tested.

Can I prevent my dog from getting Lyme disease?

Keeping your dog on a tick prevention medication year-round is the easiest way to help prevent Lyme disease. Other ways to keep this condition from infecting your dog include avoiding long grass or bush during walks, doing a daily tick check and learning how to safely remove them from your pet, and vaccinating your dog against Lyme.

If your dog is showing signs of Lyme disease, contact our Greensboro vets as soon as possible.

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 our Greensboro vets right away.

Lyme disease in dogs, Greensboro Vet

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