Ticks carry Lyme disease over many areas of the United States. People, dogs, and other animals contract Lyme disease from these tiny ticks, but what are symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs?
Lyme disease is dangerous and challenging to deal with for all species. Here’s what you need to know and how to identify the disease in dogs.
What is Lyme Disease?
If you have dogs, you’ve probably at least heard of Lyme disease. But what is Lyme disease? Lyme Disease is the most common vector-borne illness in the US, according to the CDC. A vector-borne illness is caused by blood-feeding arthropods. These illnesses can be caused by mosquitoes or fleas, but the most common transmitter of Lyme disease are ticks.
The most common culprit is the deer tick. These tiny bugs transmit a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi.
Where Can You Find Ticks?
The best way to avoid Lyme disease is to avoid ticks. But where can you find ticks? Deer ticks can most commonly be found in forests and grassy areas. They like the shade and moisture, so deer ticks spend most of their time close to the ground where moisture can be trapped in tall grass or under leaves.
Lyme disease is also a reportable disease. This means that once a person has a confirmed case of Lyme disease, that information is then sent to the CDC. Because this information is reported, it’s very easy to see where the most cases of Lyme disease are reported.
Most cases of Lyme disease are reported in New England, the Midwest, and California. Because the CDC is given data regarding Lyme disease, they make the information publicly available. Head over to the CDC’s webpage on Lyme disease if you’d like to learn more about reported cases.
What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs?
Because dogs can’t just tell you about how they’re feeling, it’s essential to keep a close eye on them. Lyme disease in dogs has the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Joint swelling
- Decreased activity
The good news is that Lyme disease cannot be passed from one dog to the other. The only way for a dog to catch it is to be exposed to the bacterium that spreads Lyme disease. If you have two dogs, only one may be infected. If they’ve been running around or digging in the same areas, though, both may have been exposed to ticks.
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, you should get your pup to the vet right away for treatment.
How to Treat Lyme Disease in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has Lyme disease, your vet will likely give them a test first to confirm. Your vet will test your dog’s blood to check for the antibodies that fight Lyme disease. If your vet confirms that your dog is infected, they will follow a standard treatment.
The treatment of Lyme disease includes antibiotics. Usually, your dog will get a month’s worth of antibiotics, and most dogs recover reasonably quickly. Just be sure that you follow-up with your vet. They may want to retest your dog after a dose of antibiotics to ensure they’ve been cured.
Are there Other Diseases Associated with Ticks?
Ticks can spread several different diseases. Anaplasmosis and babesiosis are two diseases that are not as common as Lyme disease but can still be spread by a tick bite.
It’s also possible that your dog can get infected with many different bacteria from a tick bite. Luckily, the treatment for most tick bites includes an antibiotic. This means treating one likely treats all. A good rule of thumb is to follow up with your dog’s vet to ensure your dog has a clean bill of health.
How Can You Prevent Your Dog from Getting Ticks?
The best way to stop your dog from getting Lyme disease is to prevent ticks from biting your dog. The first thing you should do to protect your dog is to get them a tick prevention product. These products are usually applied to the dog’s coat once per month. There are also flea collars that also help deter ticks too.
You should also keep your lawn well-manicured. If you let your lawn become too long, this could be an inviting home for ticks. Be sure that your lawn is short, and any bushes are kept tidy. When leaving the house, be sure to keep your dog out of marshes or heavily wooded areas, as this is where ticks will be.
Lastly, after coming back inside, be sure to give your dog and yourself a good once over. Ticks love to nestle between toes and behind ears. Be sure to check these trouble spots to keep ticks off your pup.
Lyme disease can be fatal, but luckily it is easily treated. Just be sure to keep up with your dog’s preventative care, and you won’t have anything to worry about.