Could you spot Lyme disease in your dog?

Summer Dog

Summer’s the time of year when many of us hit the hiking trails with our dogs. Deer tick season has started earlier than usual here in the Upper Midwest, and they’re especially bad in certain parts of Minnesota.

If you plan to enjoy the outdoors with your pet during the warmer months, take careful precaution! Make sure you and your pets get the proper protection from both fleas and ticks. The chances of your pet getting these pesky insects on them has never been higher, and if the tick bite progresses into Lyme disease, it can be a horrible condition for both you and your animal.

Symptoms of Lyme disease

When dogs get Lyme disease, it typically starts with fever, lethargy, and/or random lameness in their legs. Symptoms may last for a day or two and appear again a week later. It can happen to the same limb or a different one and the pup’s joints may be swollen, warm, or painful.

That’s manageable, right? Sure, but consequences of Lyme disease can be much worse. Some dogs develop kidney problems. If not caught in time, kidney failure sets in, especially as the dog begins to show signs of vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and increased urination and thirst.

Other symptoms to watch out for:

  • Stiff walk with an arched back
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever, lack of appetite, and depression
  • Swollen lymph nodes close to the bite
  • Heart abnormalities

What about cats? Can they get Lyme disease?

Lyme disease in felines is pretty rare. But if they do get it, their symptoms are similar. It’s always good to remember that a dog with fleas or ticks can easily share unwanted pests with indoor-only cats.

Prevention and care

So don’t risk it! Invest in flea and tick preventative medicine for all your animals whether they go in and out or only stay inside. The hardship of Lyme disease is something you don’t want to battle.

A majority of animals respond well to antibiotic treatment. If you suspect any of your animals might have Lyme disease, contact your veterinarian right away.

Looking for more pet advice? Contact our Pet Helpline for caring, compassionate advice and resources.