Lyme Disease in Dogs: What You Need to Know - The Trupanion Blog
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Lyme Disease in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Lyme disease in dogs- what every pet owner should know

With the temperatures rising, and summer just around the corner, pet owners should be mindful of pesky pests that can affect your pets. Whether you’re traveling with your pets or walking the hiking trail, Lyme disease in dogs is shown to be transmitted through a tick bite. Worryingly, this disease can affect members of the entire family and is not just transmitted to dogs who spend time outdoors. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn more about Lyme disease in dogs and the best treatment option available for your furry friends.

Everything you need to know about Lyme disease in dogs

What is Lyme disease?

Parasites like fleas and ticks can affect pets of all shapes and sizes. Naturally, it’s important as a responsible pet owner to know exactly what these different types of diseases are. “Lyme disease is the clinical signs from infection with Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria carried by black-legged ticks, most commonly by the deer tick,” says Wilde.

How do dogs get Lyme disease?

Depending on where you live, ticks can be a popular sighting, year-round, especially in heavily wooded areas. If your pet comes in contact with a tick, there is a chance they could become infected with Lyme disease. Also, “dogs get Lyme disease when they are bitten by a tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, which is a kind of bacteria. The tick must be attached to the dog for 1-2 days for transmission to occur,” states Wilde. Consider checking your dog for ticks when you’re hiking, camping, and traveling.

Early signs of Lyme disease in dogs

Essentially, Lyme disease in dogs and Lyme disease in all pets can be hard to detect. However, it helps to know the signs your pet may display. Consider the following:

Dr. Wilde weighs in on the clinical signs we more commonly associate with early Lyme disease-

  • Lameness (limping)
  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Lyme disease in dogs: what does it do?

An infected tick can take days for the virus to spread, and sometimes even longer to see signs of the spread of the disease.

“When Borrelia burfdorferi is transmitted into the dog’s body, it can multiply and spread to the skin, joints, connective tissue, and central nervous system. Also, clinical signs develop in a small percentage of dogs that are infected with the bacteria, and when they do occur, generally develop 2-5 months after infection. Further, these signs are due to inflammation in the associated tissue from the dog’s immune system fighting off the bacteria. When the bacteria persist in the body, in the long term it can cause an immune-mediated inflammation of the kidneys, which can be a serious and life-threatening complication of Lyme disease. It can also cause long-term damage to the joints if it is not cleared from the dog’s body,” states Wilde.

Indeed, if you are concerned your dog has contracted the disease, please seek medical care and check in with your veterinarian regarding your concerns.


Treatment options are available for Lyme disease in dogs. While there are antibiotics for Lyme disease, the most surprising course of action might not be what you expect. “The best course of action for Lyme disease is prevention. There are so many products on the market now that can effectively prevent ticks in dogs, including oral medications. In addition, some that can provide protection for up to three months, topical ones, and collars,” says Wilde. Consider talking with your veterinarian about your pet’s best course of action for prevention.

As far as treatment goes, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories under the guidance and expertise of your veterinarian can provide pain relief with Lyme disease in dogs.

Everything you need to know about Lyme disease in dogs.

Protection is necessary

While Lyme disease in dogs can be a challenge to detect, with your veterinarian’s treatment plan, your furry friend can enjoy all the joys the season has to offer!

For more on pets and the outdoors, read Camping with a Puppy: Tips to Help Your Furry Friend

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