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Can dogs get Lyme disease?

Updated on February 21, 2011

Dogs are wonderful to have around. It is certainly amusing too see the antics of the dog. It would roll and romp on the grass, it would dart here and there…trying to catch a real or an imaginary prey. Dog and owner are unmindful of the fact that something treacherous is lurking in the grass and in the bushes.  So dangerous that it can put the life of the pet at risk. A tick, the one that is a vector of Lyme disease lives in the grasses, in the woods, under a pile of leaves in areas where there is a significant number of deer. Deer are noted to be a reservoir of the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Not all ticks are infected by these bacteria that cause Lyme disease but when a tick attaches to an infected deer to feed, the bacteria will be transmitted. Ticks are one of the external parasites of dogs hence it is highly probable that the dog will get Lyme disease as well.

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What is a tick?

A tick is a small ectoparasite that belongs to the arachnida class. A tick feeds on blood of animals and humans. Interestingly, this small blood sucker would only take a single blood meal for each of the three stages of its life. This means that a tick would have three different hosts as after engorging on the blood of the host it detaches and waits for the transition to another stage after which it will find another host. A tick may not be infected by the bacteria but when it feeds on an infected host (usually a deer or a white footed mouse), the bacteria will be transmitted and settle on the stomach, ready to be passed on to the next host of this parasite.


Timely treatment of canine Lyme disease will increase the dog’s chances of recovery. A vet’s consult would be necessary for the correct diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment. Lyme disease in dogs is a recurring illness. The antibiotic will not totally eliminate the bacteria thus an extended course of antibiotic therapy is oftentimes necessary.

Canine Lyme disease

Canine Lyme disease is one of the tick-borne diseases. This disease is transmitted particularly by deer ticks infected by the bacteria. A tick would need to be attached to the skin of an animal for 48 hours to be able to transmit the Lyme disease causing bacteria.

Symptoms of Canine Lyme Disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease vary in dogs just as it does in humans. This disease is rather hard to diagnose as the symptoms mimic the symptoms of other medical concerns. In some instances the infection transmitted by the tick bite would severely affect the dog at once.  In other cases, effects of the tick bites will be manifested by the dog after a few days. A common indication of Lyme disease is high fever and joint inflammation that impairs the movement of the dog due to excruciating pain. The dog may become lame, have a poor appetite and may even totally shun food. Severe cases of this disease can result to kidney failure that will eventually lead to the death of the dog.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme Disease in Dogs


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    • cjmo75 profile image

      cjmo75 7 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      I believe that dogs can get Lyme disease, but I do not think cats can. Lyme disease is devastating, both for dogs and humans. I caught a very bad case of Lyme Disease 3 years ago, and still have not fully recovered from the nerve damage. It's very important to protect your dog against deer ticks because not only is it dangerous to them, but they can transfer the ticks to humans. Nice work!