Lyme Disease in Dogs


You probably know that Lyme disease is a terrible illness for people, but did you know that your dog is also susceptible to Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a very small organism called Borrelia burgdorferi. This organism can be found in two types of ticks: the eastern black-legged tick (often called the deer tick) and the western black-legged tick. These ticks transmit Borrelia burgdorferi when feeding on host dogs; transmission is more likely to occur the longer the tick remains on the dog.

Left untreated, Lyme disease can be very serious for your pet. Once infected, dogs may exhibit symptoms that can include:
• Stiff, painful joints
• Inability or reluctance to walk due to inflammation in joints
• Joints that may be swollen and warm to the touch
• Fever and enlarged lymph nodes
• Lack of appetite

The best treatment for Lyme disease is prevention. Keeping your dog away from areas where ticks might be prevalent is an important first step for keeping your pet free of ticks. However, both the eastern black-legged tick and the western black-legged tick are quite small (some as tiny as a grain of sand), so vigilant tick inspections must be conducted to keep your dog safe.

Dog owners should speak with their veterinarians about the best options for their pets. There are many topical treatments that can be used to prevent ticks from biting and feeding on your pet. A vaccine is available for some dogs to aid in the prevention of Lyme disease. Ask your vet to demonstrate the proper method for removing ticks.

Lyme disease does not always result in symptoms right away, so early detection is extremely important. Treatment for Lyme disease is usually accomplished with an antibiotic for several weeks. The good news is that most dogs are very responsive to antibiotic treatment. Successful recovery depends in large part on early detection and prompt treatment.

Here at Hudson Animal Hospital, we want to help keep all dogs on the Upper West Side and in all parts of New York safe from the debilitating effects of Lyme disease! Call us today at 212-706-4088 or visit our website and schedule an appointment to discuss Lyme disease prevention for your canine companion. If you suspect your dog has been bitten by a tick, we can assess the situation and recommend appropriate diagnostic testing and treatment if necessary. Don’t let Lyme disease ruin your summer!