Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. It is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a bacteria carried by the deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, and is transmitted by the tick’s bite to humans and animals. Transmission of the bacteria requires that the tick is attached for 18 hours or longer. Even the small immature life stages of the tick can spread the disease, so just examining your pet for large, engorged ticks may not be enough to keep them safe.
Common symptoms of Lyme disease in your dog are lameness, lack of appetite and lethargy. Other signs may include: stiff walking with an arched back, sensitive to touch and difficulty breathing. More serious manifestations may include kidney damage and in rare cases, heart and nervous system problems.
In order for your dog to be diagnosed and treated, your local veterinarian will have to examine your dog and run some appropriate lab tests. Once diagnosed, your dog will be treated with antibiotics and medication for pain and fever. Some dogs may need to be hospitalized.
Vaccination and year round tick control from your veterinarian are the most important aspects of preventing Lyme disease in dogs. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what products are effective and safe in the area you live and would be the best for your dog. Dogs that live in or travel to an area that has a high Lyme disease risk should also be vaccinated by their veterinarian for this disease. In addition, you should avoid allowing your dog to roam through known tick-infested areas, groom your dog daily and remove any ticks by hand (using tweezers and washing hands well afterward).
Check out this CDC link to see if you’re in a Lyme disease prone area where a vaccine is highly recommended.
If you believe your dog is at risk, ask your veterinarian at your next visit what you can do to help your pet.