Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is most commonly spread to humans and animals through the bite of an infected tick. It is a serious concern for both humans and animals, and Lyme disease in dogs is a very real and dangerous threat. Symptoms of Lyme disease can be very similar to those of other illnesses, so it is important to take your pup to the vet if you suspect your pet may have been exposed to ticks. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to avoiding long-term health complications. Common signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include fever, lameness, and swollen lymph nodes. Additionally, your pup may experience decreased appetite, extreme fatigue, joint pain, and behavioral changes. If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause severe arthritis and heart or kidney issues.
Symptoms Of Lyme Disease in Dogs: Don’t Ignore These Signs
- Weight loss: This is one of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs is weight loss. This is due to the stress the infection puts on the body, causing inflammation and suppressing the appetite. Dogs will be less likely to eat and may refuse all food. In addition, the infection can cause a decrease in mobility, leading to less exercise and therefore a decrease in caloric intake. This can result in significant weight loss in a short amount of time.
- Loss of appetite: Loss of appetite is a common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. Loss of appetite can occur as a result of the body’s response to the infection, as the dog’s body expends energy to fight off the Lyme disease bacteria. Other symptoms can include fever, lethargy, joint pain and stiffness, swollen lymph nodes, and lameness. Unfortunately, most dogs do not show clinical symptoms of Lyme disease until weeks or sometimes even months after the initial infection. Loss of appetite in particular may appear before any other symptom and be the only presenting sign, so it is important to monitor for any such change in your dog’s eating habits.
- Lethargy: Lethargy is a very common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. It is caused by the inflammation and damage to the nervous system that Lyme disease brings. Dogs affected by Lyme disease often appear listless and lack energy. They may not want to play or go on walks, and may even appear unwilling to move or too weak to stand for long periods of time.
- Fever: Fever is one of the more common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs. It is important to note, however, that clinical signs of Lyme disease can vary from dog to dog. A fever is triggered by the presence of the Lyme disease bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, in the blood. This bacteria triggers an immune response in the dog’s body that elevates its temperature. A low-grade fever is most often seen in dogs with early stages of the disease, and more severe fevers occur in cases of advanced Lyme disease.
- Arthritis: Arthritis is a common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs because it is an infection caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria is typically transmitted by infected ticks and can cause inflammation and swelling in the joints of the infected animal. In dogs, this can lead to painful and swollen joints, and the animal might experience stiffness, difficulty walking, and lameness.
- Joint swelling: Joint swelling is a common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. It can occur in the form of swollen lymph nodes, painful joints, and stiffness. It can also result in limping. Joint swelling is caused by inflammation of the joints, which is caused by the body’s response to the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. In severe cases, the inflammation can cause permanent damage to the joints.
- Lameness: Lameness is a commonly seen symptom of Lyme Disease in dogs. It is caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by the bite of a black-legged tick. The bacteria can cause inflammation of the joints and soft tissues, leading to lameness, pain, and stiffness. Lameness can vary from mild to severe and can be affected by stress, exercise, and temperature. Early signs can include limp, swollen joints, and joint pain, with more serious effects being joint destruction, paralysis of the limbs, digestive issues, and kidney failure. It is important to have your pet tested for Lyme Disease if there is any suspicion of it and to start appropriate treatment quickly to prevent any serious health effects.
- Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a symptom of Lyme disease in dogs because the bacteria that cause Lyme disease can enter the body of a dog and cause its immune system to become overactive, resulting in inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, dogs can experience bouts of diarrhea. Additionally, the toxins created in the gut by the Lyme disease bacteria can cause irritation, which can lead to upset stomach and diarrhea.
- Vomiting: Vomiting is one of the symptoms associated with Lyme disease in dogs. When a dog is infected with the microorganism responsible for Lyme disease, their immune system mounts an attack on the bacterial cells in the body. This can cause inflammation and damage to the gastrointestinal tract, which can then result in vomiting.
- Coughing: Coughing is a very common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. It is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which is spread to dogs by infected deer ticks. The cough is usually a dry, hacking cough, lasting for long periods of time. This can be accompanied by a fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
- Swollen lymph nodes: Swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) are a common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. The lymph nodes are part of the immune system and serve to filter out bacteria and viruses from the blood and lymphatic fluids. In a dog that has been exposed to Lyme disease, the lymph nodes at the site of the tick bite, typically around the neck, swell due to the increase in white blood cells as the body tries to fight off the infection. Swollen lymph nodes can also be seen in other parts of the body. It is common for dogs to have mild or moderate swelling and tenderness in the joints, and this can be very painful. Swollen lymph nodes may feel warm to the touch or they may become enlarged and hard.
- Skin rashes/lesions: Skin rashes/lesions are a common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. A dog may develop a red, circular, or oval skin rash or lesion at the site of a tick bite which appears as a “bull’s eye” pattern. This rash can then spread and appear on other areas of the dog’s body. Other skin signs associated with Lyme disease include hair loss, acne, scabs, and red rash. In some cases, dogs may also experience itching and have difficulty sleeping. In severe cases, dogs may also develop joint swelling and lameness due to Lyme disease.
- Difficult or labored breathing: Difficult or labored breathing in dogs can be a symptom of Lyme disease. The bacteria that cause the disease can infect the lungs, causing inflammation and subsequent respiratory issues. Additionally, certain Lyme-associated complications, such as the spread of the infection to the heart or the presence of anemia, can contribute to breathing problems. Signs of labored breathing include an increased rate of respiration, and coughing/wheezing, open-mouth breathing, and/or chest recession (when the ribcage is hollowed out due to excessive air intake).
- Abnormal heart rhythms: Abnormal heart rhythms are a common symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. These rhythms, also called arrhythmias, occur when the normal pattern of the heart’s electrical impulses changes or is disrupted. With Lyme Disease in dogs, this disruption of electrical impulses can cause the heart to pause or beat too quickly (fast heart rate) or too slowly (slow heart rate). Signs associated with abnormal heart rhythms seen in dogs, specifically with Lyme disease, may include faintness, chest discomfort, palpitations, and possibly fainting. The severity of the associated clinical signs can range from mild to severe, depending on the type and degree of the arrhythmia.
- Behavioral changes/increased aggression: Behavioral changes/increased aggression can be a symptom of Lyme disease in dogs. This is because Lyme disease can cause inflammation to the brain and central nervous system, which can lead to changes in your dog’s behavior and increased aggression. Some of the most common behavioral signs of Lyme disease include restlessness, excessive barking, aggression, and changes in appetite.
Is Lyme Disease Serious In Dogs?
Yes. Lyme disease can be very serious in dogs and can cause serious health problems. If left untreated, it can even be fatal. It is important to seek immediate veterinary care if your dog shows any signs of Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Symptoms Dogs Vomiting
Lyme Disease symptoms in dogs can include vomiting. This is usually caused by the body’s reaction to the tick’s saliva, which may contain toxins and/or an allergen. The vomiting is typically mild and can range from mild and infrequent to more severe and prolonged episodes. In some cases, the vomiting may be accompanied by other signs such as loss of appetite, lethargy, fever, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Lyme Disease in Dogs Kidney Symptoms
In dogs, kidney symptoms of Lyme Disease include decreased urine production, urinary tract infections, increased thirst, increased urination (including dribbling and accidents in the house), and proteinuria (increased levels of protein in the urine). If left untreated, more serious conditions such as kidney failure, joint and heart problems, and even death can occur.
How Do Dogs Get Lyme Disease?
Dogs can get Lyme disease from tick bites. The disease is transmitted by black-legged ticks infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Dogs can also acquire Lyme disease from exposure to a dog that already has it. Ticks become infected with the bacteria by feeding on a wild animal, such as a deer, infected with Lyme disease. They then transmit it by biting other animals or people. Any dog can potentially get Lyme disease, but those that spend a lot of time outdoors or in areas with high tick populations are at an even greater risk.
How Lyme Disease Is Transmitted?
Lyme disease can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. Ticks become infected by feeding on the blood of infected animals, such as mice, deer, and birds. When an infected tick bites a person, it can transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, into the person’s bloodstream. People are usually exposed to Lyme disease through the bite of an immature tick (nymph) that gets into clothing or comes into contact with the skin during recreation, work, or household activities. Adult ticks can also transmit Lyme disease, but they are larger and easier to see and remove before they transmit pathogens.
How Is Lyme Disease In Dogs Diagnosed?
Lyme disease in dogs is typically diagnosed through a combination of tests. First, a veterinarian will likely perform a physical exam and ask about the dog’s lifestyle, such as areas where it spends time outside and whether it has been vaccinated. The veterinarian will also likely discuss any relatable symptoms noticed, such as lameness, joint pain, or fever. The diagnosis usually involves a two-step blood test to detect antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. The results of the tests are then interpreted to determine if the dog has Lyme disease. More advanced diagnosis procedures, such as lymph node biopsy and imaging tests, may also be used.
What Are The 3 Stages of Lyme Disease in Dogs?
- Early Stage: During this stage, a pet may present symptoms such as lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, joint stiffness, swollen lymph nodes, and a mild skin rash.
- Disseminated Stage: This stage causes symptoms to become more severe and may include neurological problems, heart valve abnormalities, and damage to the eyes, joints, and skin.
- Chronic Stage: This stage is characterized by recurring lameness, arthritis, and eye issues. Neurological symptoms may also appear in this stage.
First Symptoms of Lyme Disease In Dogs
- Loss of appetite
- Lameness, stiffness, or joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Reduced energy and/or activity
- Skin lesions, such as a bull’s-eye-shaped rash
- Loss of fur in patches
- Eye inflammation
- Enlarged liver or spleen
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Symptoms of Advanced Lyme Disease in Dogs
- Depression or a feeling of general lethargy
- Respiratory problems, including coughing or labored breathing
- Lameness or joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Facial paralysis
- Seizures or tremors
- Eye inflammation
- Increased thirst and urination
- Weight loss
- Neuromuscular dysfunction
Neurological Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs
Common neurological symptoms caused by Lyme Disease in dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle stiffness or tremors
- Facial paralysis
- Visual impairment
- Loss of balance or difficulty walking
What Are Eight Clinical Signs of A Dog With Lyme Disease?
- Loss of appetite
- Joint pain and/or swelling
- Lameness or shifting of lameness
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Abnormal pulsing in the lymph nodes
What Are The Symptoms of Untreated Lyme Disease in Dogs?
Untreated Lyme disease in dogs can cause progressive signs over a few weeks’ time, which can range in severity and intensity. These signs may include:
- Lameness in one or more legs
- Joint swelling
- Muscle wasting
- Decrease in appetite
- Decrease in activity
- Difficulty breathing
- Eye and/or nose discharge
- Lymph node enlargement
- Skin lesions or rash
- Loss of hair coat
What Are Some Potential Health Complications of Untreated Canine Lyme Disease?
- Impaired liver and/or kidney function
- Recurrent bacteremia (bacterial infection of the bloodstream)
- Heart rhythm abnormalities
- Nerve inflammation
- Respiratory distress
- Eye inflammation and/or vision loss
- Neurological deficits
- Weight loss
- Joint pain or swelling
- Immune-mediated diseases
- Abnormal fluid accumulation in the chest or abdomen
How Is Lyme Disease in Dogs Treated?
Treatment for Lyme disease in dogs typically involves a course of antibiotics such as doxycycline or amoxicillin. For more severe cases, higher doses of antibiotics may be prescribed for up to 28 days. In addition to antibiotics, dogs may also be given anti-inflammatory medications and pain relief to reduce joint swelling and pain. Dogs should also be kept in an area free of deer ticks or other potential vectors of the bacteria that causes the disease. Vaccination for Lyme disease is also available and is recommended for dogs in areas where the disease is common.
How Much Does It Cost To Treat A Dog For Lyme Disease?
The cost of treating a dog for Lyme disease can vary greatly depending on the severity of the condition, the treatments needed, and the location of the vet. Generally speaking, the cost of treatment can range from $200 to $600 for the initial diagnosis and related expenses. More serious cases may require additional treatments, incurring more expenses.
Vaccines for Lyme Disease in Dogs
Vaccination is the most effective way to help protect dogs from Lyme disease. There are two different types of vaccinations for Lyme disease available for dogs. The two types are killed and recombinant vaccines.
Killed vaccines contain killed Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that stimulate the dog’s immune system to produce antibodies against the pathogen. A benefit of this type of vaccine is that it takes effect quickly, however, it may not provide protection over the long term.
Recombinant vaccines contain only the portion of the bacteria that causes an immune response but do not contain any live bacteria. This type of vaccine usually provides longer-term protection for dogs as the immune response is more powerful and long-lasting. However, this type of vaccine takes longer to take effect.
The best way to ensure that your dog is properly protected from Lyme disease is to speak with your veterinarian for advice on which type of Lyme vaccination is best for your particular dog.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Lyme Disease?
The best way to prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease is to limit his or her exposure to ticks. This can be done with regular use of tick prevention products, such as spot-on topical medications, monthly oral medications, or longer-lasting tick collars. It is also important to regularly check your dog for ticks after they have been in an area that could be infested. Finally, it is a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about appropriate vaccinations for your furry friend.
Q. How long can a dog live with Lyme disease?
A. The prognosis for dogs with Lyme disease depends on many factors, such as the severity and stage of the disease, and how quickly it is diagnosed and treated. Dogs that are treated early can often make a full recovery. In general, dogs with Lyme disease can live a normal life expectancy, which is typically 10 to 12 years or longer.
Q. Is diarrhea a symptom of Lyme disease in dogs?
A. Yes, diarrhea is a possible symptom of Lyme disease in dogs.
Q. Is vomiting a symptom of Lyme disease in dogs?
A. Yes, vomiting can be a symptom of Lyme disease in dogs.
Q. How long before symptoms of Lyme disease appear in dogs?
A. The incubation period for canine Lyme disease is typically two to five months. Once the Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) has been introduced to the canine system, signs may begin to appear anywhere from three to five months later.
The symptoms of Lyme Disease in dogs can be very difficult to detect. Dogs might exhibit general signs of discomfort or soreness that don’t necessarily fit into any one diagnostic category. This can make it difficult for owners to recognize symptoms, or even be sure something is wrong. By understanding the most common signs of Lyme Disease and the specific symptoms it can cause, owners can be more prepared to take care of their dogs and seek medical attention as needed. Early detection and treatment are key for successful outcomes, so if you think your dog is at risk it’s important to get them to a veterinarian for a check-up. With the right diagnosis and treatment, your dog can have a full recovery.