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Can Lyme Disease Be Cured in Dogs?

Can Lyme Disease Be Cured in Dogs?

The bite of an infected tick can cause Lyme disease in dogs if the Lyme disease organism reaches the vital internal organs like kidneys and heart through the bloodstream. Do you know the most common type of ticks that can cause Lyme disease? The black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks are known to carry Lyme disease. Such ticks are usually found throughout Canada, as well as the Midwest and eastern United States.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs?

The key symptoms that people can easily observe in dogs suffering from Lyme disease are mentioned below:

  • Prolonged pain in some body parts is one of the major symptoms. When you see a dog suffering from Lyme disease, it feels like it is walking on eggshells.
  • Loss of appetite and high fever are other symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs. The Lyme disease organism likely localizes in vital organs like kidneys or heart which is why experiencing high fever is common.
  • One major symptom that pet owners usually overlook is painful lameness that appears suddenly and keeps shifting from one leg to another. It can disappear after some time and you’ll think that the problem is gone but that’s where you will be wrong because it will recur weeks later.
  • Vomiting, lethargy, and weight loss are also some signs of Lyme disease as kidneys are affected by this sickness but there can be other reasons for such symptoms. These are not specific to Lyme disease. Such health problems can kill your dog, which is why keeping an eye on such symptoms is important.
  • Dogs often show the symptoms of Lyme disease after two to five months of infection, by that time the disease may spread through the entire body, making it one of the most dangerous diseases for dogs.

What are the Causes of Lyme Disease in a Dog?

The organisms responsible for the Lyme disease in dogs only spread through the tick bites, especially deer tick bites. B.burgdorferi bacteria is acquired by a tick when it feeds on infected small animals, when dogs are exposed to such bacteria-carrying ticks, the bacteria gets transmitted into their bodies. The transmission usually takes one to two days. Dogs living in woody or grassy areas where temperature is above 45°F and humidity is more than 85% are very vulnerable to the ticks. Highly energetic dogs with a very active lifestyle who mostly spend their time outdoors have higher chances of encountering such ticks.

What are the Various Stages of Lyme Disease in a Dog?

The three stages of Lyme disease in a dog are mentioned below:

  • Localized Lyme Disease (Stage 1) - It is in the initial stage at which bacteria have localized itself in some portions of the dog’s body but have not spread.
  • Early Disseminated Lyme Disease (Stage 2) - At this stage, bacteria are no longer localized and spread throughout the body.
  • Late Disseminated Lyme Disease (Stage 3) - It is the final stage where bacteria have spread to distant parts of the body like joints and nerves.

How to Diagnose Lyme Disease in Dogs?

Diagnosis of Lyme disease in dogs is done in several steps:

  • The first step is to visually diagnose your dog. If there are signs of lameness, swollen joints, fever, and lethargy, you should not delay seeing a vet.
  • The second step is to conduct an antibody test after visual diagnosis. It is done to detect the number of antibodies the body is creating because of exposure to the organism. If the body has created enough antibodies to fight the bacteria, the test results will be positive, but if the body has not created enough antibodies, the test will be negative.
  • A positive antibody test can confirm the presence of bacteria while the negative does not as not every dog’s body may necessarily create enough antibodies to fight bacteria. A follow-up QC6 test is then done to assess the antibody level numerically for confirmation.
  • Urine and blood tests can be conducted to assess kidney function. Other tests like joint fluid analysis and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can also be done with varying degrees of sensitivity.

Treatment for Lyme Disease

Lyme disease originates from tick bite-containing bacteria, which is why it is treated with antibiotics like doxycycline, amoxicillin, and azithromycin. The antibiotic treatment goes on for several weeks. If the treatment is started timely, a rapid improvement can be seen in the condition of the dogs but if their kidneys or heart is affected by the bacteria, dogs are referred for advanced diagnostics and treatment. Dog Lyme disease treatment costs from $ 207 to $ 382 including the veterinary exam, early diagnosis, and antibiotic treatment.

What are the Chances of Recovery of a Dog from Lyme Disease?

If the diagnosis treatment of Lyme disease is done before the spread of bacteria, there are high chances for the swift recovery of a dog but if the bacteria have already spread to the heart and kidneys as a result of late diagnosis, dog Lyme disease life expectancy is very less. Dogs can recover after the treatment but they can still develop chronic kidney disease or arthritis later in their life. It’s best to never expose them to the ticks by using dog clothes as a protective layer on their fur.

How Can We Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs?

Peak tick seasons are spring and fall and these are the times when you need to be cautious about your dogs. Tick control is the best way to deal with this situation. Make sure your dog spends less time in an area where ticks can thrive. Check your dog for ticks whenever they come from a woody area and remove them immediately if you see them.


Your yard should be treated regularly if you live in an area with a high risk of ticks. Should I get my dog vaccinated, this is also a question that comes in the minds of pet owners. Vaccination will not offer total protection to your dog against ticks but you can still go for it.

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