Lyme Disease in Dogs: 5 Things You Need to Know to Protect Your Pup
Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a bacterial disease that’s transmitted to dogs through tick bites. It’s one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world and has been reported in dogs across the United States and Europe. Lyme disease is most prevalent in deer ticks (or black-legged ticks), located in the Midwest, East Coast and throughout Canada. From joint issues and swollen lymph nodes to a more serious form that can affect your dog’s kidneys, Lyme disease can cause many health problems for your pup.
The good news? It’s preventable and we’ve got five things you need to know to protect your dog from Lyme disease:
1) It can take some time for your dog to show any signs or symptoms of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease only causes symptoms in 5-10% of affected dogs, which means some pups can have it and you’d never know. Dogs also might not show any signs of illness for weeks or months after an infected tick bites them.
When dogs do show symptoms of Lyme disease, the severity depends on the progression since the initial bite from an infected tick. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends keeping an eye out for the following signs:
- Swollen or limp joints
- Decreased activity/lethargy
- Appetite loss
- Kidney problems
2) Your veterinarian can test your dog for Lyme disease.
A Lyme disease diagnosis and/or infection can be difficult to detect in dogs. The AVMA recommends you discuss any testing needs, care or treatment with your veterinarian if you think your dog has Lyme disease.
Blood tests can detect the presence of antibodies from the bacterial agent of Lyme disease (known as Borrelia burgdorferi). Your veterinarian may also order more tests to diagnose the infection and determine if it’s affected your dog’s kidneys.
3) Depending on your location, Lyme disease is a year-round risk.
While many believe Lyme disease is only a summer or warm weather threat, the potential for infection is possible year round. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, the weather, temperature and presence of infected ticks all play a role in making Lyme disease a problem all year long.
This Parasite Prevalence Map (right) shows the number of dogs who tested positive for Lyme disease at the county, state and national level.
4) Prevention is the BEST way to protect your dog.
The key to Lyme disease prevention is to limit your dog’s exposure to ticks. Ticks can be found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas and find their way onto your dog by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees. Their sensors detect approaching animals and will crawl or drop onto them.
Keep your dog away from thick underbrush to reduce exposure and stay on trails when walking near wooded or tall grass areas. You should also check your dog’s fur regularly and if you do find a tick on them, remove it immediately with these helpful steps from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
5) Protect your pup’s fur and skin with a bodysuit.
Our final recommendation to prevent Lyme disease is a K9 Top Coat. Our Supra Bodysuit, Supra Plus Bodysuit and Full Cover Bodysuit can help minimize ticks, burrs and stickers all year round. Moreover, our suits are designed with lightweight and breathable four-way stretch material.
To ensure your pup won’t overheat in our suit, we had it independently-tested by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Plus, our bright colors also make it easier for pet parents to spot ticks on their dog’s bodysuit and remove them quickly. Pro tip: you can also use a pet hair remover roller along the outside of the suit to pick up any ticks easily!
If you’re ready to protect your pup, check out our bodysuits: