Monday Musings: Canine Lyme Disease


Canine Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases. Borrelia burgdorferi, which is the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease, is transmitted by slow-feeding, hard-shelled deer ticks. Infection typically occurs after the Borrelia-carrying tick has been attached to the dog for at 2-3 days. If left on the dog too long, it can lead to infection and serious complications. When infection leads to disease in dogs, the dominant symptoms are inflammation of the joints, lack of appetite, and depression. More serious complications include damage to the kidneys and heart or nervous system disease. Young dogs appear to be more susceptible to Lyme disease than older dogs.


Other symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Stiff walk with an arched back
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever, lack of appetite, and depression
  • Superficial lymph nodes close to the site of the infecting tick bite may be swollen
  • Heart abnormalities are reported, but rare
  • Nervous system complications (rare)

If your dog is showing signs of vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups, then your dog is beginning to have kidney failure which can result from Lyme disease affecting more and more of the body.

If you believe your dog may have Canine Lyme Disease or is showing the symptoms, please bring your dog to your Veterinarian right away. The sooner you take your dog for medical help the better. The history you provide may give your Veterinarian clues as to which organs are being affected. Your veterinarian may run a combination of tests specific to diagnosing Lyme disease to ensure that is what the dog may have.

To help prevent Lyme disease, check your dog’s coat and skin daily and remove ticks by hand. Your Veterinarian may also recommend and carry  a variety of sprays, collars, and spot-on topical products that kill and repel ticks. Such products should be used under a veterinarian’s supervision and according to the label’s directions.

For more information on how to check your dog for ticks (including how to remove them) please click the following video link.





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