What is Lyme disease?

tick on a fingernail

The technical name of Lyme disease is spirochete,  Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacterium that is transmitted to dogs from the bite of a tick. Once in the bloodstream, the disease is carried throughout the dog’s body and is likely to set up shop in the joints or kidneys.

The most common tick to carry Lyme disease is the deer tick aka the black-legged tick.  These nasty buggers are found mainly in the midwest and the eastern United States.

How does my dog get Lyme disease?

dog in the grass

Contrary to popular belief that ticks are only around during warm summer months, potential risk is year round.  Ticks don’t jump or fly, they crawl. Specifically, ticks are found in grassy, wooded and even sandy areas. When a dog brushes against a bush, or walks through tall grass, the tick quickly grabs on and then settles in for a bite.

Particularly, when you are camping, hiking or walking (especially in wooded areas), dogs should always be kept on trails to prevent tick bites.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Dog in the woods

As a dog mom or dog dad, be aware of the typical symptoms of Lyme disease

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Stiffness, discomfort, signs of pain
  • Swelling of joints
  • Kidney problems

Even so with these obvious signs, Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose.  For this reason, your veterinarian should be contacted immediately if your dog shows these signs.  The doggy doc can perform a simple blood test to detect the Lyme disease bacteria in your dog.  In addition, they may also conduct additional tests to determine if the bacteria has traveled to your dog’s kidneys.

Prevention is key for Lyme disease

Dog lovers can do things to prevent their dog from getting Lyme disease:

Treatment of Lyme disease

dog at vet

Use of antibiotics, such as Doxycycline, is typically the first course of action for treating Lyme disease.  Unfortunately, treatment usually lasts at least 4 weeks and sometimes longer in severe cases. In some cases, antibiotic treatment doesn’t always completely eliminate the bacteria.  Your dog’s symptoms may subside and then return later.  Always talk with your doctor to figure out the best action plan for prevention and treatment of Lyme disease.