Dogs didn’t earn the moniker of “man’s best friend” by chance. Besides the warm welcome they give you when you get home from work, they’re great company, alert to threats like the mailman, and always ready for a bit of fun.

Understandably, when your furry friend faces a condition like Lyme disease in dogs, it can feel like the end of the world. Your dog does so much for you. If they’re sick, you want to know how to keep them happy and get them healthy again, and Penny Paws is here to help. 

Below, these veterinary care providers break down what Lyme disease is, what to look for in your pet, and, most importantly, how you can protect your dog from this tick-transmitted disease.

Understanding Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a common concern in the veterinary field, affecting humans and their dogs at any age and in any region. It is most prevalent in the northeast United States, with more than 95% of cases occurring in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, or Pacific Coast. However, it can occur anywhere that dogs roam through tall grass or wooded areas, including in Texas.

Typically, Lyme disease manifests as an ongoing bacterial infection that can affect both animals and humans. It enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the body to impact the following:

  • Organ function
  • Joint stability
  • Muscle health
  • Overall well-being

Ticks are the primary culprit when it comes to spreading Lyme disease to your beloved pets, particularly ticks carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. The black-legged tick will commonly carry this bacteria. However, many other species of ticks may also transmit Lyme disease to your dog if they carry the bacterium.

The transmission of Lyme disease usually occurs when an infected black-legged tick latches onto your pet, bites them, and transmits the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium into their system while they’re attached. Typically, the tick must attach directly to your dog’s skin for at least 24 to 48 hours to transmit the bacterium.

Clinical Presentation: Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Since the bacteria must do its work over some time, you may not know that your dog has contracted Lyme disease initially. Most pet owners do not notice until the disease progresses and shows symptoms, which may take two to five months. The symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lameness
  • Joint swelling
  • Stiffness, pain, or discomfort with movement

Left untreated, Lyme disease can progress to total kidney failure and become terminal. Early diagnosis is essential for your pet’s health, but diagnosing a dog with Lyme disease will be a multi-step process. It starts with a thorough physical evaluation and then blood samples for serologic assays (to reveal antibodies).

How To Prevent Lyme Disease in Your Dog

Imagining your fur baby with a painful condition can be stressful, but there are preventative solutions to safeguard your pet. For example, the following tips should help you keep Lyme disease far away from your four-legged friend:

Use Tick Control Products As Advised By Your Veterinarian

Tick-preventive products protect your dog extremely effectively. For instance, applying a topical product to the back of your dog’s neck can deter ticks from biting them. Medicated collars also ward off ticks looking to latch on as the dog explores their surroundings.

Monitor Outdoor Time In Tick-Friendly Habitats

Your dog will be more likely to contract Lyme disease if they spend a lot of time outdoors in grassy, sandy, or wooded areas. These are prime locations for ticks looking to feed. You can either limit their time outdoors, choose a different area to walk or play, or just check them for ticks as they come inside each afternoon.

Manually Remove Ticks As Soon As You See Them On Your Dog

If you’re proactive, you’ll thoroughly examine your dog for ticks every time they come inside. Push the hair aside, and check directly on the skin, particularly under the back and front legs, inside the ears, and around the anus. Then, when you find a tick, remove it as quickly as possible. 

The longer a tick latches onto the skin, the more likely it will be to transmit Lyme disease in dogs. To remove them, veterinary professionals at Penny Paws suggest doing the following:

  • Place the tip of the tweezers against the skin as close as you can. 
  • Squeeze firmly.
  • Carefully remove the entire tick. 
  • Once you have the tick off the dog, crush it with rubbing alcohol.

Get Your Dog a Lyme Vaccine From a Veterinary Service Provider

Lyme vaccines are extras, but professionals at Penny Paws highly recommend them for dogs that live around wooded or grassy areas. A yearly Lyme vaccine could protect your pet from this infection, and Penny Paws provides convenient mobile vaccine clinics in Texas to make things easier.

These vaccines contain antibodies that directly target borreliae in your dog’s skin after a tick bite, preventing it from spreading. If your dog has any underlying health conditions, you can discuss the alternatives with your veterinarian.

Treating Dogs With Lyme Disease

Do you suspect that your dog may have already contracted Lyme disease? Don’t worry; veterinary professionals will typically treat Lyme disease with doxycycline, amoxicillin, or azithromycin. The course of antibiotics typically lasts about four weeks.

In some cases, symptoms of Lyme disease may persist after antibiotic treatment. When this happens, the care provider will address your dog’s individual symptoms through medication and therapeutic services.

Should a Vet Evaluate Your Dog For Lyme Disease? Call Penny Paws to Find Out!

There are many effective ways to prevent Lyme disease in dogs, but it still doesn’t have to be a devastating diagnosis. Animal healthcare professionals at Penny Paws treat pets with this and other diseases throughout Texas, with mobile visits and various clinics throughout the state.

Why not call our veterinary service providers directly to your home to perform examinations and administer treatment where your dog feels most comfortable? Schedule your pet’s appointment today—call Penny Paws at 817-993-1234 or fill out our online form!