Common Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs

Common Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs


Lyme disease is a common illness spread by ticks that can affect both humans and dogs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 30,000 cases of Lyme disease reported in the United States each year. Dogs are more susceptible to the disease because they are lower to the ground. Ticks are typically found in tall grass and wooded areas, which are areas that dogs will most likely encounter the parasites. Once a tick attaches itself to a dog, symptoms such as joint discomfort and weakness may start to manifest.

Most dogs may not exhibit any symptoms at all. If you find a tick, further tests by your veterinarian are needed to diagnose Lyme disease. Common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs include:

  • Arthritis pain and limb atrophy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Partial face paralysis
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss due to kidney failure
  • An overall change in behavior like a reluctance to move or walking with a stiff and painful looking gait

Why Is Lyme Disease Hard to Diagnose?

It can be difficult to diagnose Lyme disease because common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs are similar to other conditions or fluctuate from mild to severe. Unlike humans with Lyme disease, dogs do not get any kind of visible rash at the bite location, making it harder to detect. If left untreated, common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs can affect the nervous system, heart and kidneys. Your veterinarian will perform tests to rule out other possible health concerns. However, blood tests may show exposure to the Lyme disease bacteria but without any symptoms, or a negative test because the blood was tested too early.

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Facts

There are two types of ticks that can cause common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs, deer ticks and black-legged ticks that are more common in the western United States. The ticks themselves do not inherently have Lyme disease but acquire it by feeding on an infected host, like a rat. Despite popular belief, tick activity occurs year-round across all climates, even in cold weather because it only takes a few warm winter days for ticks to become active again. A human cannot get Lyme disease from a dog unless a tick falls off the dog and bites its owner. The best way to treat a case of Lyme disease is early detection because fast enough treatment can improve common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs in under 48 hours.

Dog Lyme Disease Treatment Options

Once Lyme disease is diagnosed, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe a course of Doxycycline antibiotics for at least four weeks. They may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines treating swollen joints from Lyme disease to lessen discomfort. If symptoms do not improve after a few days or get worse, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. Common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs may reoccur and require additional antibiotics and follow-ups with your veterinarian to monitor the progression of the disease. It takes between 24-48 hours for a tick to infest a host. Therefore, treatment is not necessary if the tick is removed immediately.

Lyme Disease Preventative Measures

Lyme disease prevention require vigilance on the part of the dog owner. When going out for walks, avoided heavily wooded areas full of brush and debris where ticks thrive. Make it a daily habit to check your dog’s fur and skin, especially if your dog has recently contracted Lyme disease from a tick in your area. Ask your veterinarian about vaccinating against Lyme disease, as well as for anti-tick collar and topical tick repellent recommendations. There are many options available on the market, here are some of the best tick control products:

Frontline Plus

For convenient and effective tick control, Frontline Plus can eliminate all ticks at any stage of development. Formulated for dogs 8 weeks or older, simply apply the topical cream once a month for reliable tick prevention.

K9 Advantix II

Advantix II is a topical tick treatment and prevention option suitable for dogs 7 weeks or older. Apply portions of the solution on 4-6 spots on the dog once a month to kill existing ticks and prevent eggs from maturing.

Adams Flea & Tick Shampoo

During bath time, use Adams Flea & Tick Shampoo to kill fleas, ticks, and lice on your dog immediately. The perfect solution for sudden parasite infestations. When in use, avoid contact with the eyes, nose and mouth. Rinse immediately if signs of sensitivity occur.

Talk to your veterinarian before using any tick treatment product. To learn more about common Lyme disease symptoms in dogs and the best treatment, please visit our website.

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