6 Scary Facts about Lyme Disease in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 1, 2015
6 Scary Facts about Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease is a scary thought for people, with approximately 30,000 cases of the illness being reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year. But are you aware that Lyme disease can also affect dogs? Like in humans, it is transmitted by a bacterium spread through the bite of an infected tick. Here are some other disturbing facts you may not have known about Lyme disease in dogs.

1. Tick Nymphs REALLY Small

At less than 2mm in length, a tick nymph is smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. 

Source: CDC

2. Lyme Disease Transmission is Relatively Quick

It only takes 36-48 hours for an infected tick to be attached before Lyme disease can be transmitted.

Source: CDC

3. Lyme Disease is EVERYWHERE

Positive cases of Lyme disease in dogs have been reported in all 50 U.S. states. Lyme disease can also be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Source: IDEXX Laboratories, LymeDisease.org

4. A LOT of Deer Ticks are Infected with Lyme Disease

As many as 50% of adult female deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis) are infected with the bacterium which causes Lyme disease in dogs (and humans).

Source: University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center

5. Deer Ticks Can Survive Frigid Temperatures

Adult deer ticks have been known to survive temperatures freezing (32 °F). So don’t think your dog is safe just because it gets cold in your area during the winter. 

Source: University of Rhode Island TickEncounter Resource Center

6. Lyme Disease Can Be Fatal

Although it does not occur commonly in dogs, Lyme disease can cause kidney failure and death in severe cases. The most common sign of Lyme disease in dogs is arthritis, which causes sudden lameness, pain ands sometimes swelling in one or more joints.

Source: Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine

Protect Your Pet

Discuss with your veterinarian what are the best ways to protect your dog from Lyme disease, especially if you live in area where it is endemic. There are several options that can fit your personal preferences and your pet’s lifestyle, including tick preventatives.

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