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Can Dogs Get Lyme Disease?

Dog, resting in the grass

Maddie here! You probably already know how fired up your dog gets to go on adventures with you - I love going outside to play with other dogs and with my humans! - but when venturing outside, it’s essential to have proper protection. Did you know that in the United States, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness?

Even worse, Lyme disease can be contracted by dogs like me! In fact, an infected tick could infect both of us if we aren’t careful. Today, let’s learn a bit more about this disease and how we can protect ourselves during our walks.

Carrier Ticks

Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi organism that lives in the gut of ticks. (It even sounds dangerous!) Ticks are extremely small and tend to hide in shady ground litter and tall grasses. Low tree branches and other shrubbery also house these pests.

This puts them on-level with my body and face! Worse yet, ticks are also found in gardens and lawns. Ticks particularly love feasting on deer, which are attracted to well-kept and plentiful gardens. I’m curious about the wildlife I see on our walks and when we play, so it’s important to keep your dogs at a safe distance from those other animals.

Additionally, there a bunch of steps you can take to tick-proof your lawn and garden. By keeping grasses cut low and branches trimmed, you can minimize the tick population at home.

What Happens when a Dog has Lyme Disease?

If a tick finds its way onto your dog and latches on, it needs to be attached for two days before it can begin transmitting disease. That’s good news for us! It can be hard to spot ticks in fur, but if you take the time to check your pup after a walk or other outdoor escapade, you could save them from tick-borne diseases.

If you spot a tick on me, remove it quickly, but be careful! If we accidentally leave tick mouthparts in my skin, I can still acquire a disease. I know our friendly veterinarian can remove them safely if you’re scared, and even send the tick to a laboratory. The lab can then see what kind of tick it is, and even test it for Lyme disease.

Even after minimizing risk like this, we still have to be careful. Some dogs have minor limping or muscle lameness after being infected. After a short period of time, these symptoms fade-but the disease does not! It can return with a vengeance as the Lyme disease continues throughout the bloodstream. If you remove a tick from me, even very quickly, let’s be wary and keep this in mind. I’ll do my best to let you know if I’m feeling down or hurt anywhere, so keep an eye on me too!

Can Dogs Spread Lyme Disease?

So what happens if, despite our efforts, a nasty tick gives me Lyme disease? What does that mean for you or your other furry friends?

By keeping an eye on me after removing a tick, we’ll be able to spot any changes in my movement ability or behavior. On the off-chance I do get the disease, bring me to a veterinarian to discuss treatment, which can involve antibiotics.

What about you and our other furry friends? Not to fear, Lyme disease can’t be transferred directly from me to you, or me to another furry friend! Only ticks can transfer the disease through bites. With careful prevention methods, tick checks, and veterinarian trips when in doubt, we’re well equipped against Lyme disease. And that deserves a high five-or high paw!

Looking for more ways to keep your pets and family safe outdoors?

Check out Maddie’s Corner!