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How Do Dogs Get Lyme Disease

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How Do Dogs Get Lyme Disease

How to protect dogs from Lyme disease?

A spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease. Its transmitted to your dog when an infected tick bites them.

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include:

  • recurrent arthritis/lameness that lasts 34 days
  • loss of appetite
  • reluctance to move or a stiff, painful gait
  • swollen joints that are warm to the touch
  • pain in the legs or throughout the body
  • fever

While there are many species of ticks, Lyme disease is usually carried by:

  • Deer Ticks
  • Western Black Legged Ticks
  • Lone Star Ticks

Before I keep going, I want to emphasize that Lyme disease isnt caused by the tick itself. This is an important fact that I will discuss in more detail later.

But first, lets make sure you understand the ticks role in Lyme Disease.

Summary Of Lyme Disease In Dogs

Lyme disease is transmitted via tick bites, and can cause lameness, swollen joints and even kidney failure. While it can be treated if the case is not too severe, prevention is best. The best way to prevent an infection is to reduce your dogs exposure to ticks and stay up-to-date on monthly preventatives and Lyme vaccinations.

Can My Dog Recover From Lyme Disease

Provided the disease is detected and treated effectively early enough, with the course of antibiotics signs of Lyme disease typically resolve within the first 3 days.

However, the organism that causes Lyme disease is very good at hiding and while treatment is typically successful in eliminating clinical signs, dogs that test positive for Lyme disease will remain positive for years, if not forever. If your dog tests positive but is not sick, your veterinarian will tell you whether they recommend treating at that time.

Though most dogs infected with Lyme disease will develop arthritis, the silent killer is the Lyme organism and antibodies produced after exposure, which can damage the filter in the kidneys. The impact of this form of the disease on the kidneys can easily go unnoticed until it is too late. If your vet determines that the kidneys have been affected, this can be treated and monitored before severe renal problems arise.

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Keep Up To Date With Regular Tick Prevention

Use a product that repels or quickly kills ticks. This has the added benefit of reducing the chances of other tick-borne diseases too. There are many products on the market, in the form of collars, tablets, and spot-ons. Many of these are multi-purpose, working against fleas and other parasites too. Speak with your vet about the best product for your dog.

How Is Lyme Disease In Dogs Diagnosed

What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease in Dogs

If you think your dog has been infected by a tick, and schedule an appointment. The vet will give your dog a physical exam and ask about the recent contact with ticks. Your vet will run two blood tests called the C6 Test and Quant C6 Test.


The C6 Test detects Lyme disease infection by checking for antibodies against a protein called C6. If your dog has been infected, these antibodies start to develop between two to five weeks after the tick bite. At this time, your dog might not even be showing any symptoms of Lyme disease. The Quant C6 Test follows, along with a urine test. A blood test can also check your dogs kidney function. These results are used to decide the best course of treatment for your dog.

Other tests that can give Lyme disease in dogs prognosis include microscopy, culture isolation, and a PCR.

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How To Treat Lyme Disease In Dogs

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Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. It affects dogs, humans, and other animals and can lead to arthritis, kidney disease, nervous system disorders, and heart problems. Prompt treatment is important to prevent long-term complications. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent Lyme disease in dogs.

Lyme Disease In Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

Flea & Tick By Kelsey Leicht 8 min read March 18, 2022

Lyme disease is a serious tick-borne illness that humans are rightfully wary of. But it can also occur in dogs, which means owners must be on guard. Thankfully, while formidable, Lyme disease is both preventable and treatable.

Below, well discuss the basics of canine Lyme disease, explain how it is transmitted, outline the symptoms it causes, and share ways to prevent and treat this doggo disease.

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Key Takeaways

  • Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can afflict dogs and humans. The disease is transmitted to people and pets via the bites of black-legged ticks whore carrying the bacteria.
  • While the illness can be serious, Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics. However, as with most other pet health concerns, its usually easier to prevent the disease than to treat it.
  • Lyme disease primarily occurs in the northeastern United States but does pop up in the Midwest or Pacific occasionally. All pet owners should be careful about ticks, but those living in these areas must be particularly diligent.

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The Lyme Vaccine Can Cause Lyme Disease Symptoms

Holistic vet Dr Patricia Jordan urges pet owners to avoid the Lyme vaccine for their dogs. She claims the Lyme vaccine is more dangerous than Lyme disease:

There is no justification for taking this serious vaccination risk with our dogs. The Lyme vaccine is all risk and no benefit. There is a high chance of severe adverse events like a lifetime of non-treatable arthritis pain just for getting the jab in the first place.

And Dr Michael Garvey of the Animal Medical Center agrees. He says dogs can develop Lyme-like symptoms. And it can happen days or even weeks after vaccination.

Dr Jordan also explains that cells in the immune system can react with the antigens in the Lyme vaccine. This causes Lyme nephritis which is ironic, because Lyme nephritis is the reason your vet wants to give your dog the vaccine!

This is why none of the US veterinary schools list the Lyme vaccine as one of their recommended vaccines.

What The Research Says About Lyme Disease In Dogs

How to Tell if Your Dog or Pet Has Lyme Disease

Swiss researcher Dr Thomas Rau went to areas where Lyme was common. There he studied groups of farmers who were likely exposed to Lyme.

And he found something interesting

80% of the farmers had Lyme disease, but of that 80%, only 2% showed any symptoms.

That means the vast majority of the farmers with Lyme disease were able to fight it off on their own.

But why was that?

Dr Rau decided to find out. And this is where it gets interesting

Dr Rau discovered that 100% of the people with full blown Lyme symptoms had other viruses. Ones that already stressed the immune system.

This is in line with current research that looked into cases of Lyme disease in the 90s. It revealed a link between existing health issues and Lyme disease symptoms.

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What Are The Stages Of Lyme Infection

There are three stages:

  • Early localized Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, and a rash that looks like a bulls-eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long
  • Early disseminated Lyme: Flu-like symptoms like pain, weakness, or numbness in your arms and legs, changes in your vision, heart palpitations and chest pain, a rash , and a type of facial paralysis known as Bellâs palsy
  • Late disseminated Lyme: This can happen weeks, months, or years after the tick bite. Symptoms might include arthritis, severe fatigue and headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, and confusion.

About 10% of people treated for Lyme infection donât shake the disease. They may go on to have three core symptoms: joint or muscle pain, fatigue, and short-term memory loss or confusion. This is called post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. It can be hard to diagnose because it has the same symptoms as other diseases. Plus, there isnt a blood test to confirm it.

Experts arenât sure why Lyme symptoms donât always go away. One theory is that your body keeps fighting the infection even after the bacteria are gone, like an autoimmune disorder.

What You Need To Know

You might have heard of people getting diagnosed with Lyme disease, but have you ever wondered if dogs can get Lyme disease, too?

An infection thats typically transmitted through tick bites, Lyme disease is relatively common in humans, and dogs whove been bit by an infected tick are just as likely to develop it.

The Dodo reached out to Dr. Kristopher S. Sharpe, medical director at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to learn more.

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Lyme Disease In Dogs: Is It Common How Dangerous Is It

You undoubtedly already know that ticks carry Lyme disease in dogs. Those disgusting parasites are always on the lookout for a warm host to feast on. Borrelia Burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, is present in some ticks.

However, you may not know that your dog may test positive for Lyme disease even when it does not have the condition. It is strange, isnt it? But its true. According to the Tufts University Cummings School in Animal Medicine, an antibody test may indicate positive status. However, only approximately 5% of dogs tested positive for the disease. The excellent news for dog lovers everywhere!

Five percent of dogs have Lyme disease, so it is essential to know what to look out for if you think your pet has it. You and your veterinarian should also talk about the benefits and drawbacks of the Lyme vaccination.

The second thing to remember is that fever and lameness may appear in dogs in as little as two to three days, while in others, it might take weeks or even months before symptoms appear.

In other words, if you remove ten ticks from your dog in August, it may be Halloween when your dog begins to exhibit symptoms of the sickness. However, if you locate ticks on your dog and it begins to be sluggish, take it to the clinic as soon as possible. As compared to chronic Lyme disease, acute Lyme is simpler to treat.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Can I Give My Dog Lyme Disease Or Vice Versa

Lyme Disease in Dogs: Most Important Information for You

You cant give your dog Lyme disease, nor can your dog infect you. However, if either one of you has a tick, you should both be checked out by a medical professional. Its entirely possible that the tick may have traveled from your body to your dogs, or vice versa, without you realizing it. If you have an open wound, there is alsoa slight chance that the bacteria from the tick can pass through it, so make sure to be extra vigilant to keep yourself safe in those cases.

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What Is Lyme Disease How Does My Dog Get Infected

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Borrelia. The bacteria are most commonly carried by the deer tick . Infection occurs when a dog is bitten by an infected tick. It appears that the disease is not transmitted until the tick has fed for approximately 12 hours. The tick itself becomes infected by feeding on infected mice, birds, deer, and other animals.

Should You Get The Lyme Vaccine For Your Dog

I cant tell you what to do although there are a lot of folks who try to

If you visit the Pets & Parasites website, youll see some pretty scary things like this

The folks at Pets & Parasites arent the most creative bunch, because here was their 2017 forecast

And their 2016 forecast

Pets & Parasites deliver the same message every year and just change the date. How can Lyme disease be that scary when most dogs will never get sick? Even when they test positive for Lyme.

Why all the fuss about Lyme if it doesnt really affect dogs? Companion Animal Parasite Council publishes The Pets & Parasites website. And this council is sponsored by companies who make tick products they want you to buy.

You might think Im biased when it comes to vaccines and that would be true but Im nowhere near as biased as the huge corporations that make billions of dollars off dogs and cats each year! And dont think theyll share my little secret that 95% of dogs with Lyme disease will NEVER develop any symptoms theres no money in that message.

But they will try to scare you and your vet every year, so youll run out and get their spot ons and vaccines.

But now I hope you know better than to get caught up in the propaganda.

So, will you vaccinate your dog for Lyme this year?


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Check Your Dog Daily For Ticks

Of course, no preventative is 100% effective. So, you should also check your dog for ticks every 24 hours, especially if youve walked in at-risk areas. This should prevent ticks feeding for long enough to transmit infection. Remember ticks can be tiny! Carefully check all over focusing around the ears, eyes, collar area, tail base, between the legs, armpits and between the toes.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Dog May Have Lyme Disease

Dogs can get a Lyme disease vaccine. Why cant humans?

What should I do if I suspect my dog may have Lyme disease?

If your dog is showing symptoms of Lyme disease, contact your veterinarian or the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 509-335-0711.

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian. Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.

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Diagnosing Lyme Disease In Dogs

You will need to provide a thorough history of your dog’s health to give your veterinarian clues as to which organs are being affected.

Clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease is usually confirmed with a positive blood test for Lyme along with the clinical signs associated with Lyme disease.

Its important to note that tests can take 4-6 weeks to show up as positive after exposure, which is why veterinarians will use a combination of diagnostics to diagnose your dog:

  • Blood chemistry tests

  • X-rays and tests specific to diagnosing Lyme disease

  • Fluid from the affected joints may also be drawn for analysis

How Ticks Spread Disease

The tick feeding process makes ticks very good at transmitting infection:

  • Depending on the tick species and its stage of life, preparing to feed can take from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the tick finds a feeding spot, it grasps the skin and cuts into the surface. The tick then inserts its feeding tube. Many species also secrete a cement-like substance that keeps them firmly attached during the meal. The feeding tube can have barbs which help keep the tick in place.
  • Ticks also can secrete small amounts of saliva with anesthetic properties so that the animal or person cant feel that the tick has attached itself. If the tick is in a sheltered spot, it can go unnoticed.
  • A blacklegged tick will attach to its host and suck the blood slowly for several days. If the host animal has certain bloodborne infections, such as the Lyme disease agent, the tick may ingest the pathogen and become infected. If the tick later feeds on a human, that human can become infected.
  • After feeding, the blacklegged tick drops off and prepares for the next life stage. At its next feeding, it can then transmit the infection to the new host. Once infected, a tick can transmit infection throughout its life.
  • If you remove a tick quickly you can greatly reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease. It takes some time for the Lyme disease-causing bacteria to move from the tick to the host. The longer the tick is attached, the greater the risk of acquiring disease from it.

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Lyme Disease: A Pet Owner’s Guide

Lyme disease is an illness that affects both animals and humans what is known as a zoonotic disease and is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Transmitted through tick bites, the disease can be difficult to detect and can cause serious and recurring health problems. Therefore, it is best to prevent infection by taking appropriate measures to prevent tick bites and, for dogs, possibly vaccinating against the disease.

The bacterium that causes Lyme disease a worm-like, spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi is carried and transmitted primarily by the tiny black-legged tick known as the deer tick. Deer ticks are found in forests or grassy, wooded, marshy areas near rivers, lakes or oceans. People or animals may be bitten by deer ticks during outdoor activities such as hiking or camping, or even while spending time in their back yards.

Named after numerous cases were identified in Lyme, Conn., in 1975, the disease has since been reported in humans and animals across the United States and around the world. Within the U.S., it appears primarily in specific areas including the southern New England states eastern Mid-Atlantic states the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota and on the West Coast, particularly northern California. The CDC maintains a map detailing confirmed cases of Lyme disease throughout the years.

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