What Are the Symptoms of Canine Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by a microbe called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is only carried by certain ticks, most notably the deer tick and black-legged tick. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans and dogs through the bites of these ticks.

The classic symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs are different from signs of infection in humans. If you ever take your dog to woods or fields where ticks live, use this guide to spot canine Lyme disease symptoms.

Look for joint pain and tenderness, as this is the number one symptom of canine Lyme disease. A dog can start to limp on one of its front legs in as little as a 3 hours following an infection. Eventually, all limbs will be affected to the point where your dog doesn't want to move. Swollen lymph nodes may also occur with the joint pain.

If your dog is not arthritic and you notice a sudden change in the way your dog moves, especially after being in the woods, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Fever over 103° Fahrenheit is another sign of Lyme disease in dogs. If your dog develops a sudden fever in addition to the symptoms above, it may be from this tick-borne disease.

Loss of appetite is another possible sign that your dog is infected with the Lyme disease bacteria. Keep an eye on your dog's eating habits.

If you live near the east coast, check your dog's fur for deer ticks. If you live near the west coast, look for black-legged ticks. Deer ticks in the nymph stage are more likely to carry Lyme disease than adult ticks. Unfortunately, baby ticks are very difficult to see, so check your dog with a fine tooth comb--literally! If you see any suspicious ticks, and your dog has either of the other symptoms, see your veterinarian. The symptoms of Lyme disease can mimic symptoms of other diseases, but the infection progresses very quickly in canines. Because of this, your vet won't wait for the blood test results to get back before giving your dog antibiotics. Luckily, Lyme disease can be managed easily if it is diagnosed on time.

© Had2Know 2010