Lyme Disease In Dogs

An Overview

Tick infections are widespread in dogs. Lyme disease is one of such condition, affected by ticks. Signs and symptoms are visible in only five to ten percent of the patients. Spirochete species of bacterias under the Borrelia burgdorferi group of classification are the carriers of the disease.

After the infection leads to the condition, the conventional medical feature is occasional lameness. It happens because the infection mainly targets the joints. Other signs are depression and lack of appetite. Eventually, damages occur in areas like the kidneys, heart, lungs or even the nervous system.

Affected Races

Symptoms like kidney diseases are common in golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs, and Shetland sheepdogs. There are incidences where the younger ones were more affected by the condition than the older dogs. The entire United States along with Europe have some significant cases of Lyme disease. The most affected states are upper Midwestern states, the Pacific coastal states, and the Atlantic seaboard.

Signs and Symptoms

After the infection leads to the condition, the conventional medical feature is occasional lameness. It happens because the infection mainly targets the joints. The lameness will last for as long as three to four days and recurs every once in a while, either in the same leg or in both the legs, clinically called as shifting leg lameness. One or both the joints may get swollen, get painful, and appears to be warm.

Lyme disease can also cause glomerulonephritis, which leads to dysfunction and inflammation of the kidneys. Glomeruli, a part of the kidneys which filters the blood becomes victim and may result in kidney failure. The visible signs of kidney failure are diarrhea, vomiting, lack of appetite, increased in thirst and leading to an excess of urination, weight loss, and abnormal buildup of fluids inside the body.

Other signs and symptoms of the conditions are:

  1. The dog will walk stiffly with an arched back.
  2. The dog will appear to be sensitive to touch.
  3. It will have trouble breathing.
  4. It will have a fever with lack of appetite.
  5. A prolonged period of depression will perceive.
  6. The lymph nodes on the surface, close to the area of infection may get swollen.
  7. Although a rare occurrence, an abnormal heart rate can persist.
  8. Although a rare occurrence, the nervous system can also suffer complications.


The bacteria responsible for the condition in dogs comes in existence when there is a case of slow feeding, hard-shelled deer ticks. The infection generally occurs after the bacteria stays in contact with the dog for more than two to three days.


After reaching an experienced vet, the owner has to provide a thorough history of the patient, which should include things like the background of the signs, and the probable incidents that might have ignited the condition. The information the owner provides will help the vet get an idea of which are the organs that might have become the target of the bacterias.

In most of the cases, the vet conducts some blood chemistry tests, along with complete blood cell count, an analysis of the urine, an examination of the fecal, Xrays. There is also some diagnostic procedure that targets explicitly in identifying the condition.


If diagnosis results in Lyme disease, the patient will be treated as an outpatient, unless the condition becomes worse. Doxycycline is the most commonly prescribed drug for the condition. There are some other medicines in the corner to help with dealing with the disease. The vet will usually recommend the treatment length to be around four weeks.

The vet will also recommend anti-inflammatory drugs if the dog is having constant pain in affected areas. The dog may feel a bit uncomfortable while the vet applies medications on the affected areas. It's unfortunate that anti-inflammatory drugs don’t always relieve the dog of pain and suffering. Signs may return after the dog recovers from the condition. Kidney issues are still a concern for the owner.


There are some natural tick prone areas out there. A strict avoidance in these areas is a great option to prevent the disease. The owner can also check and remove ticks by his hand once in a while. The owner can have a thorough consultation with the vet on this disease, and he may suggest some useful products to prevent the condition. Vaccines to combat the condition are there, but the usefulness is still a  topic of debate. Well, if it comes to vaccination, a thorough with the vet is needed.

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