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What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease and Your Dog

My Dog Has Lyme Disease, Now What?

I am saddened to announce our foster dog, Taylor was recently diagnosed with Lyme disease and three types of worms! The poor pup is only 6 months old and just went in to get a checkup so he could get adopted.

I’ve never experienced Lyme disease in any other foster dog or my resident dogs, so I was not aware of the symptoms, but I am now! Of course, just like you, I went straight into research mode to find out everything I could about Lyme disease. So here is what I learned…

How Did My Dog Get Lyme Disease?

One creepy, crawly word… ticks! Since Taylor was found abandoned in Tennessee near a boat ramp, it’s probable that he had a tick attach to him, and that tick was infected. If you live in a heavy tick-infested area, you need to be protecting your dog against ticks. As you can see in the photo of Taylor below, he looks healthy and happy. You would never know he has Lyme disease just from looking at him. Keep reading to learn the best ways to keep ticks off your dog.

Foster Dog Has Lyme Disease

Dog Lyme Disease Symptoms

For the first week we had Taylor I noticed he was slow to get up from sleeping on his dog bed, his back legs would appear to have fallen asleep. He was not able to jump up onto our couch, which at first I figured he never learned how.

I continued to notice slight weakness in his legs and so I decided mentioned it to the vet. Never did I imagine his diagnosis would come back with Lyme disease!

Unfortunately, Lyme Disease symptoms are not always very obvious, and some dogs won’t show any signs. Some symptoms to watch for would be:

  1. Lameness in the legs (can be shifting from one leg to another, be intermittent, or recurring)
  2. Stiffness, discomfort, or pain in your dogs’ legs
  3. Swelling of joints in your dog’s legs
  4. Reduced energy
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Fever
  7. Liver failure (this is uncommon)

Our Taylor didn’t have any symptoms other than the lameness in his legs. So if I hadn’t been paying close attention to him and if I hadn’t mentioned it to the vet, he may have gone undiagnosed!

I highly recommend paying close attention to your dog, he will give you clues on how he is feeling. Your dog can’t speak like you and me, so it’s our job to listen to his body language!

Treatment for a Dog that Has Lyme Disease

The first step was for our vet to confirm that our foster dog has Lyme disease by performing a blood test. Next, the vet prescribed an antibiotic called Doxycycline. Taylor needs to take two of these pills once a day for 28 days. He will then need to go back to the vet to be tested again.

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

I am always very concerned about our foster dogs getting our resident dogs sick. With every new foster we bring in, we are taking a chance at our dogs contracting something from them. I always check for worms in new foster dogs, since that is the most common issue we see.

But good news, we do NOT have to worry about Lyme disease. It is not contagious in any way. The only way to contract Lyme is to be bitten by an infected tick. If you have more than one dog, there could be a chance that both dogs get bit by the same tick or another tick infected with Lyme. So it’s a good idea to have all your dogs tested.

Lyme disease is NOT transmitted from one dog or pet to another dog or pet, it can NOT be transmitted from pets to humans either. Being bit by an infected tick is the only way Lyme disease is transmitted.

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How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Lyme Disease

Very simply, avoid ticks. I know this is not realistically possible, so it’s important to protect against ticks attaching to your dog. I know our vet recommends using Frontline or K9Advantix, and we’ve used it for many years until recently. I’ve been learning about the long-term effects of putting this poison on our dogs. Please read Are Flea and Tick Medication Safe for My Dog?

There are other natural ways to protect your dog against ticks. Only Natural Pet has some great options, along with Only Natural Pet EasyDefense Dog Flea & Tick Control Kits

I’ve also read about a way to use essential oils to protect against ticks. You can find the ingredients on my article Are Flea and Tick Medication Safe for My Dog?

Another option is a vaccination for Lyme disease that you can ask your vet about. I have mixed feelings about adding a vaccination for your dog unless it is absolutely necessary.

vet removing tick from dog ear

Lyme Disease FAQ

I found it interesting that an infected tick must be attached to your dog for 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme. That means you should be checking your dog frequently for ticks. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it immediately!

Although unlikely, in severe cases Lyme disease can cause kidney failure and death. But don’t panic, this is rare. Talk to your vet if you are worried about it.

Once infected with Lyme Disease, a dog will always have the bacteria in his body. Therefore, relapses are possible, and owners should be on the lookout for lameness, unexplained fever, or swollen lymph nodes. Most dogs will live a long happy life with no complications.

Recommended just for you:

I pray that you and your dog never have to experience Lyme disease. Always do a tick check on your dog and your family after coming home from a hike in the woods, dog park, or anywhere ticks can be an issue.

Prevention is the key, and I understand that not everyone can afford flea and tick medications or you may be concerned about the chemicals in these medications like I am. Whatever you do decide, protect your dog against ticks in some way, whether it be avoiding areas with heavy tick infestations, using the chemical flea and tick medications or a home-remedy.

How do you prevent ticks in your dog? Please comment below and help our Rescue Dogs 101 community decide what is best for their dog.

P.S. If you haven’t downloaded our free Dog Health Record printable yet do it NOW!


About the Author Debi@RescueDogs101

Debi McKee is a dog mom, volunteer foster dog home, and lifetime dog lover. Debi’s mission is to guide you through every step of your dog journey, from adopting the perfect dog for you and your family, to training your dog and keeping your dog happy and healthy. Sign up for our free resource library of must-have resources, containing valuable downloads to help you in your dog journey.

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