Can Dogs Get Lyme Disease?

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 that’s typically transmitted through tick bites, Lyme disease is relatively common in humans, and dogs who’ve 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.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. “Borrelia is transmitted by Ixodes ticks after attachment to the animal for a minimum of 24–48 hours,” Dr. Sharpe told The Dodo.

Luckily for your pup, most dogs exposed to Lyme disease are able to fight off the infection themselves and don’t develop clinical illness.

“One difficult thing with Lyme disease is that testing primarily shows exposure, but does not prove active infection, so many dogs may be exposed and their body fights off the infection, and they do not get sick,” Dr. Sharpe said.

Can dogs get Lyme disease from ticks?

Dogs can get several different types of infections that are transmitted by ticks, including Lyme disease.

“Infections are regionally different throughout the country based on geographical changes and the type of tick present to transmit the disease,” Dr. Sharpe said.

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs

On the off chance that your dog does develop an actual case of Lyme, Dr. Sharpe said there are some common signs.

The most common clinical signs that are associated with Lyme disease infection include:

  • Mild fever
  • Lethargy
  • Mild lymph node enlargement
  • Joint swelling and discomfort

“Rarely, dogs can develop a serious form of kidney disease that results in increased drinking, urinating and decreased appetite,” Dr. Sharpe said.

Keep in mind, though, that a dog usually won’t show signs of having Lyme disease until several months after exposure to the infected tick, if at all, Dr. Sharpe said.

Lyme disease in dogs treatment

According to Dr. Sharpe, Lyme disease is treated with a longer course of an antibiotic, usually doxycycline. “Dogs with common signs of Lyme disease usually respond to treatment within days, and antibiotics are continued for up to a total of 28 days,” Dr. Sharpe said. “Dogs with the rare kidney form of disease require aggressive treatment.”

To prevent your dog from ever having a tick hang out on her in the first place, it’s a good idea to have a flea and tick prevention method set up.

Like this Revolution Topical Solution For Dogs from Chewy for $127.72

If you do suspect that your dog might be developing Lyme disease from a tick bite, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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