Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

Did you know that your dog is just as susceptible to Lyme disease as you are — if not more? You may not always be able to prevent tick-borne diseases, but knowing the signs of Lyme disease in dogs can help get your pet quicker treatment.

If you live in a wooded area, enjoy taking hikes with your dog, or reside in certain high-risk areas, it’s especially vital to familiarize yourself with this potentially fatal canine health concern.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bite of a tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Primarily, Lyme disease transmission happens after a bite from a blacklegged tick (like the deer tick). Because these ticks are often very tiny, it can make removing them from your dog before they’ve had a chance to bite challenging.

Lyme disease isn’t transmitted instantaneously, though. Once a blacklegged tick bite has occurred, it takes at least 24 hours for the bacterium to be passed from the infected tick to your dog. Research has shown that most dogs become infected between the 36 and 48-hour mark, so the quicker you can find and remove the tick, the less likely it is that your dog will develop Lyme disease.

Where you live also contributes to the risk of Lyme disease in dogs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of Lyme disease have been seen all across the United States. However, they are most common in the Northeastern, Northwestern, and Upper Midwestern states.

It’s important to note that even though humans and dogs can contract Lyme disease, you can’t give it to your dog (or vice versa). However, the same ticks that infect your dog can infect you, making prevention key for your dog’s health and your own.

What Are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs?

Every dog is unique, so Lyme disease symptoms in one dog may look different from those in another. There are also several forms of Lyme Disease, which also impact the related symptoms.

Complicating things further is the fact that many dogs who have contracted Lyme Disease don’t show any outward symptoms. Only between five and 10 percent of infected animals will develop clinical signs, and those symptoms may mimic other diseases so closely that they may never be diagnosed.

While many of the common symptoms in dogs are similar to those experienced by people with the disease, dogs do not develop the characteristic bulls-eye rash so often associated with Lyme disease.

Lameness and Swollen Joints

Two common signs of Lyme disease in dogs are intermittent lameness and swollen joints.

This lameness often shifts from leg to leg with no apparent cause or trigger — some people describe these dogs as looking like they’re walking on eggshells, and symptoms may randomly come and go. However, on closer inspection, it frequently correlates with swollen joints in the same affected leg. Those joints are usually also warm and tender to the touch.



Enjoy this blog? Let's stay connected ;)