Lyme Disease in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks pick up the bacteria by feeding on infected animals, then they subsequently pass it on to healthy mammals by biting them. Lyme disease can be a serious, debilitating condition for dogs, which is why prevention is so important. Below, a Southwest Houston veterinarian shares some of the signs, symptoms and treatment options for canine lyme disease, as well as some tips to keep your dog protected.

Signs and Symptoms

One of the most challenging things about lyme disease is that it can be difficult to detect, and therefore tough to diagnose. In the early stages, there may be no outward signs of a problem. When symptoms do begin to appear, they’ll typically show up in the form of one or more of the following:

  • High fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Painful, swollen joints (often indicated by difficulty moving around or getting up from a laying position)
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Of course, many of these symptoms are the same for other medical conditions, so further testing must be conducted by your Southwest Houston veterinarian to reach a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Dogs that are diagnosed with lyme disease are typically treated with a course of heavyduty antibiotics. This medication may not completely eradicate the bacteria, but it is usually powerful enough to reduce or eliminate the symptoms that go along with the disease, making life much more comfortable for the animal. In severe cases where kidney disease has developed, additional medicines may be prescribed along with antibiotics. Your Southwest Houston veterinarian will be able to determine the best course of action.

Prevention Tips

The biggest key to preventing lyme disease is protecting your dog against ticks. Ask your Southwest Houston veterinarian to recommend a good oral tick prevention medicine, and whether the use of external or topical products would benefit your dog. Avoid areas where ticks are more prevalent, such as tall grass or wooded areas. And, of course, check your dog for ticks regularly and remove any you find immediately. The more diligent you are about tick prevention, the lower the chances of your dog ever having to worry about lyme disease.