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What is Lyme Disease in a dog"?  
Questions and answers about Lyme Disease in dogs.

A bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi is the culprit that infects humans, dogs and some other animals and causes what is called Lyme Disease.  Because it was first identified as a distinct disease in a number of dogs and humans in the area of Old Lyme, Connecticut, it has been called Lyme Disease. 
Often misspelled Lymes Disease, it has no relationship to citrus fruit. 

Kitten and cat health care questions and answers, articles, videos and images

     Our 5 year old Brittany Spaniel was getting sick... was limping on her front leg, acted tired and sore all over and just didn't act right.  We took her to three vets before one did a blood test for Lyme Disease and she was positive.  
     We've never seen a tick on her and she never leaves our yard so how could she get Lyme Disease?  Will the antibiotic we're giving her cure her for good? 


View a video of a dog
 with Lyme Disease

The in-clinic blood test for Lyme Disease is quite accurate and any positive reactor is presumed to harbor the bacteria in their body tissues; so whenever a positive test is seen, coupled with the physical exam and patient history, the doctor will treat for this infection.
     Many dogs that never act sick may have been bitten by a tick capable of transmitting the bacteria; the dog may or may not develop observable signs and some will generate their own protective immunity.  Other dogs become very sick with bacteria and their toxins that invade the joints, heart, kidneys and central nervous system.
     Treatment, started the sooner the better and continued even after the patient seems "cured", often will permit a full recovery.  Some patients will relapse if not treated long enough; some may become infected again someday and get sick again if their immune systems are not capable of warding off the offending bacteria.  Some develop an immune mediated blood disorder months or years later called Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia.
     Treatment with antibiotics and pain medications usually works well.  Humans generally do not get infected with Lyme Disease directly from their dogs, but because the dog and human inhabit the same environment a disease causing tick may infect a human just as easily as the family dog!  And just because you've never seen a tick on your dog has no bearing on the probability for infection.  One stage of the most common offending tick, called Ixodes, is no bigger than these two commas ,, !    

Doctor's Notes
     The major reason  topical flea/tick preventative seems to fail is due to the owners bathing the pet just prior to applying the product. 

Tick Avoidance
There are no products or methods to effectively and safely repel fleas and ticks; someday soon there may be.  DEET products that humans apply to clothing can be quite toxic for dogs.  
     Safe anti-tick products are available from your veterinarian but none actually repel/prevent ticks from getting on your dog!  They work only after the parasites contact the oil layer of the dog's skin.

Always read the full instructions before applying any pet flea or tick product.  And never "double up" on different products without consulting your veterinarian.

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A dog with joint pain Tick with skin cells still in its mouth parts from attachment to a dog Your back yard may harbor
 fleas and ticks 
Even puppies can 
get Lyme Disease

Ask an online veterinarian a question via email and get a prompt reply!  Check out the JustAnswer function here

Related questions and answers...                           View a video of a dog with Lyme Disease
Trustworthy Sites For Pet Health Information
Pet Food Recalls
Current and previous recalls
Am. Vet. Med. Assn.
FDA Veterinary Database
Animal health news and info
Veterinary Specialists
Veterinary Nutrition
Pets and Parasites

My vet says my dog should have a Lymes shot.  How important is it and how come I never heard of this before?


Go to to see a number of photos of dogs and cats with various conditions and diseases.  View a few x-rays (radiographs), surgery images and parasites, too.

Answer:     Lyme Vaccination... why vaccinate
Lyme (not "Lymes") Disease has only been recognized in the USA since the early 1980's.  Since originating in the NE United States this bacterial disease,
spread by certain species of tick, has gradually extended its range into nearly most of the USA and parts of Canada.  It may have just recently been seen in your location so the veterinarians want you to be aware of this "new" disease and to let you now the value of vaccination for protecting your dog before it is bitten by an infected tick.
     Although often treatable with antibiotics if diagnosed early, some dogs can have lasting problems and a few even die from the disease.  Today's Lyme vaccines are very good at instilling an immune protection level in the dog
     If your dog got Lyme Disease and your veterinarian did not inform you about the vaccine you would surely be unhappy; so after learning about the disease and ways to prevent it, you can decide if you think it makes good sense to protect your dog via vaccinations.  It's your call.

Lyme Disease Patient here

  Blacklegged (or deer) ticks
(Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) can transmit several tick-borne diseases including anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease. An adult tick is pictured at left, though it is the smaller nymphal stage ticks which most commonly bite humans.

Interesting tick images below from

Learn more

Blacklegged (deer) tick

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  This tick does not carry Borrelia organisms and so does not
contribute to Lyme Disease infections

American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) as well as the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) can transmit many diseases including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.

American dog tick

Learn more

This tick does not carry Borrelia organisms and so does not
contribute to Lyme Disease infections

Lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum) have been linked to transmission of ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI). The saliva of these ticks is irritating, and can cause an allergic reaction at the site of the bite

American dog tick

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