How Is Lymes Disease in Dogs Transmitted?

Lymes disease in dogs is caused by Borrella burgdoferi, which is primarily carried in deer ticks. The tick carrying the bacteria has to remain attached to the animal's skin for at least one day for the bacteria to be transmitted, but deer ticks are very small and can easily go unseen for days. If left untreated, Lymes disease (usually known as 'Lyme disease,' which is how it will be referred to here) in dogs can cause numerous problems including heart, joint, kidney and neurological issues.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease in dogs can have the following signs and symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Lameness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anorexia
  • Inflammation of the joints
  • Myocarditis
  • Skin rashes
  • Neurological problems
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of energy
  • Disorders of the nervous system

Diagnosing Lyme Disease in Dogs

Only a veterinarian will be able to diagnose your pet with Lyme disease. He or she will likely perform a blood test on your dog, and then evaluate the blood test results with the symptoms your pet is showing. Unfortunately, the blood tests alone will not give you a yes or no answer, so the veterinarian will need to take into account other factors before diagnosing your pet with Lyme disease.

About Deer Ticks and Lyme Disease

The ticks that carry Lyme disease are called Ixodes, and are usually found in certain areas of the United States. Humans can also become infected with Lyme disease, but infected dogs cannot transmit the disease to humans. As stated earlier, deer ticks are extremely small and can go unnoticed for days at a time, making it rather easy for them to transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.

Treating Lyme Disease in Dogs

Treatment for Lyme disease in pets involves the use of an antibiotic, usually doxycyline. This antibiotic is to be used for three to four weeks on the animal. Pet owners should always consult a veterinarian before using any type of medication on their pet, and carefully follow his instructions.

Prognosis for Lyme Disease in Dogs

Dogs being treated for Lyme disease should show signs of recovery a few days after beginning treatment. Even so, Lyme disease can reappear within a few weeks or months, and the pet will need to get back on the medication treatment if this occurs.

How to Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs

A vaccine is available for the prevention of Lyme disease, but the best way to prevent it is to address the issue of ticks. If pet owners notice ticks around their home or backyard, they should have them destroyed as soon as possible. If you notice a tick on your pet, remove it quickly to prevent it from spreading the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. There are also several tick prevention products available on the market, and your veterinarian will be able to provide information on them. If you live in northern California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin, the chance of having ticks in your region is very high. These states account for nearly 90% of all cases of Lyme disease.