Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs – Prevention and Treatment

You are probably familiar with Lyme Disease…however, you may not realize that it’s the most common tick-transmitted disease in the world.

This disease also happens to be highly over diagnosed and over treated in dogs.

Over-vaccination is a serious problem in veterinary medicine…but you also need to protect your pet.

As a matter of fact…. only 5-10% of infected dogs ever develop Lyme disease symptoms. This lack of disease symptoms in dogs…. raises serious questions  about prevention and treatment practices in conventional veterinary medicine.

The only way to contract the disease comes from the bacteria (Borrelia Burgdorferi)…. primarily, it can only be transmitted from the bite of deer ticks. That’s it. It can’t be passed on any other way.

The disease is reported throughout the United State and Europe… above all, they are most common in the upper Midwestern states….and the Atlantic and Pacific coastal areas.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

As mentioned earlier, most dogs exposed to the disease never develop any symptoms.

When the infection does lead to disease…the dominant symptoms includes lameness due to inflammation in the joints….loss of appetite…and depression.

Sometimes the lameness last for only a few days but can recur weeks later.

Some dogs may develop long term issues like kidney problems which can lead to diarrhea…. vomiting….weight loss….and increased urination and thirst.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Stiff walk with back arched

What is Lyme Disease and is it a REAL Threat?

Lyme is a disease, not an imbalance in our dogs.

Many of today pet ailments and illnesses are caused by physiological imbalances in our dog’s systems….instead of using prescription medications….these can often be treated with natural remedies.

Diseases on the other hand like Distemper, Parvo, and Lyme…are infectious diseases that can be identified and transmitted. These diseases can be isolated, cultured, grown, and transmitted.

It’s a straight-up….true disease-causing….living bacteria or virus.

Most non-infectious conditions in dogs like hormone, liver, and kidney challenges are not like this. Typically, these are cascading conditions brought on by imbalances in your dog.

The fact is…natural resistance exists in the animal world which prevents most illnesses from infectious diseases like Lyme.

Research shows that the heavy vaccination of animals (particularly dogs)…. actually reduces their immune system functions. Which weakens their natural ability to fight these pathogens.

Lyme Disease Epidemic – Is it real?

The blow-up “epidemic” of Lyme disease…. began around the same time that in-clinic testing became popular. These early screen tests showed over 90% of all dogs testing positive in some areas.

But in reality…the epidemic was for Lyme detection. The epidemic was NOT in Lyme infection.

Meaning, a positive result for this test…. only showed that the animal was exposed to ticks that carry the Lyme disease…but that doesn’t automatically translate to infection…or symptoms.

So go ahead…and do the test for your dog…it helps you decide if your pet is protected from infections. But don’t treat your dog based solely on the test results.  Remember, a positive test means your dog was exposed to the doesn’t mean they have been infected with Lyme.

Very few tests actually look for Lyme organisms….since they are tough to find. Most tests are only for the antibodies that fight Lyme.   Because this test is only basically showing an immune response.

The most common tests are the “SNAP” tests…those are done right in the vets office. These should be used for screening only (not diagnosing)….because are not definitive tests.

If the screen results are positive…. you should get more information.  The Cornell University Multiplex is the best test now…. which is tops for diagnosis and monitoring.

Is your dog showing symptoms?

Does your dog show symptoms? This is the key factor in deciding whether to treat for Lyme disease. When testing positive (to exposure- not infection)…. but not showing symptoms…you should discuss options with your vet.

Lyme treatment is usually done with antibiotics over a period of a few weeks. Your dog should improve rapidly.

Prevention is the #1 protection

So, the easiest way to protect your dog from Lyme disease…. is to control your dog’s exposure to ticks.

This is especially true in peak tick season…. and when your dog spends time romping in tall grass…. and wooded brush. Keep grass and brush trimmed in your yard…because this is where they like to hide.

First of all, use conventional or all-natural flea and tick prevention...such as, Diatomaceous Earth.   It’s is a common and effective all-natural home treatment.  DE is a top choice since it is all-natural…non-toxic…easy to use…and best of all it’s CHEAP!

There are plenty of very good Homeopathic herbal based flea and tick prevention.  These natural substances and essential oils deter bugs from even latching on.  Never use essential oils on cats…many of them are toxic to felines.

Many of these treatments also protect your dog from mosquitoes….which is very important…since the are an even bigger threat to your dogs health.

So, check your dogs coat and skin every day. Remove ticks by hand with tweezers. Never use nail polish, matches, or needles.  Getting ticks off in the first 24 hours will reduce your dogs exposure to this disease.

There is a Lyme disease vaccination which I don’t recommend…since it’s highly controversial.

Remember, natural protection occurs in your dogs immune system…and vaccinations weaken this system.

Bottom Line?

Rather than risk damage to your dogs immune system due to vaccination…focus on promoting vitality in your dog. Robust dogs are less likely to contract Lyme disease    Even if they are exposed to the ticks that carry the bacteria.

For testing…the positive SNAP test does not equal infection.   The Cornell Multiplex is a good test for diagnosis and monitoring.

Prevention is your #1 line of defense.  Keeping your dog healthy and vibrant is another layer of protection.  Healthy bodies naturally fight disease.

Keeping your dog’s system in balance keeps everything working together.  This way you are protecting them naturally from the inside…against infectious diseases. 

Protect them cheaply and easily with diatomaceous earth.  It really does make a difference…and you aren’t poisoning your pet.

Your questions and experiences are always welcome…please give feedback in the comment section below.

All the best!


26 Comments on “Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs – Prevention and Treatment”

  1. Great information. I often wondered if dogs could get Lyme disease. Now I know. Thanks for the information. I do catch flack for not vaccinating my dogs, but I also believe it weakens their immune systems. My fur babies are well in their teens.

    1. Hi Janet,

      Vaccinations are tricky for sure. Don’t think there is a blanket right or wrong answer—in general. You have to make those decisions based on the knowledge you have available. I don’t like some of the horror stories I hear about vaccinations in people either. Really makes you wonder.

      In general…if your pets have a strong immune system they can fight off a lot of stuff. Same for us!

  2. Thanks Tim for this great information. I’m planning to, and hopefully will, get a dog in the future and knowing about the symptoms and prevention of lyme disease is much appreciated and valuable! Thanks!

    1. Hi Sanna,
      Thank you for checking in and reading up on this topic. Lyme disease really is a big business money maker that often uses scare tactics to get pet parents to over medicate. Drug makers love stuff like this.

      I know when the time is right…your new friend will find you!

  3. Hello Tim. I’m a big fan of dogs. Too bad last year I had to lose the best dog I ever had (it totally broke me into pieces) and after reading the symptoms of Lyme disease I think it could have had been it. It had lost appetite and would eat anything, had breathing difficulties and walked in a funny way. I wasn’t sure what it was though because just before it fell sick it had fallen in the pool and I just realised it around 3 am I was kinda too late. Anyways great post and very helpful too.

    1. Hey Donny,
      Sorry to hear about you losing your dog. It’s never easy to say goodbye even if you see it coming. There are quite a few things that can go wrong…but if you can keep them in generally good health they fight off a lot of bad stuff on their own. Thank you for sharing your story and maybe someday you’ll give another lucky dog, needing love, a new home again! Best – Tim

  4. Awesome information. My old dog ran off with my neighbor’s dog one spring. After he came back, I pull 12 ticks off him. It was horrible, I really had my work cut out for me that night. He never showed any signs of lyme disease. Anyway, he has been gone since this past spring… miss that old dog.
    Great article,

    1. Hi Dan,
      I know you miss your companion…sorry to hear about your loss this spring.

      When they take off like that—they never come home with just 1 or 2 ticks…always covered in them. That’s why it’s so important to get those ticks off the same day. They are at risk after the tick has been latched on for 24-48 hours. If you can get them off before then you’ve done a good job in protecting them. Thanks for sharing…..Best! Tim

  5. Oh wow! I never knew that only 5 to 10% of infected Lyme Disease dogs are ever diagnosed. I guess it makes sense though. There are a lot of stray dogs who need love and a home. I wish we could do more to help them.

    I do have a question though. I could not agree with you more that prevention is the best way to stop Lyme disease. It goes a long way. When you say I should focus on promoting my dogs vitality, what do you mean by that? I would appreciate your elaboration.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope you make it a great day!

    1. Hi Alex,
      Dogs really benefit from vibrant living. So like us, when they get well-balanced nutrition, exercise, and proper recovery (rest)….they tend to fight off most diseases naturally.

      If your dog is ever ill – it’s a good idea to have your vet do blood/urine work to make sure all of their internal organs and systems are functioning properly. Any imbalance there could mean an infection or deficiency. Other than infection…many things can be treated naturally with supplements containing herbs, vitamins, essential oils (dogs not cats), or minerals. The key is to put the body back in balance so it can heal itself. This is a good all around supplement I use for my dogs called SPARK.

      You can fine tune a supplement if your dogs has a weak area. For example…my older dog has a weakened adrenal system so I give her a daily natural supplement to help her stay healthy in that area. Many pet owners just don’t pay attention. It’s easy if you watch your pet for signs and react quickly when there is something strange going on in their behavior. They can’t speak…but they have other ways they tell us when there’s a problem. Hope this helps!

      Thanks again for checking in! Tim

  6. You said natural protection occurs in the dogs immune system. Are particular breeds more succeptible to Lyme? Dogs were bread in certain areas and now we of course have moved them from where they originated to all around the world. For example cold weather dogs in snowy areas probably didn’t suffer from ticks as much right. But then again they may not have been exposed to certain diseases that are present in say…Florida. I know it sounds crazy but who knows?

    1. Hi Thomas,
      Yes we certainly have a transient dog population don’t we? Dogs by nature don’t find themselves more vulnerable to these diseases based on their geographical background. What puts them at added risk are breakdowns in their overall health (immune system, adrenal, digestive, etc.). Certain breeds ARE at higher risk of exposure though due to the nature of their breeding characteristics. Working dogs and hunting breeds like Labs, Shepherds, Hounds, Retrievers, and others love to romp in the bush and tall grass. Right where those little devils hang out.

  7. Very informative, I never knew that vaccination on dogs can do more harm than good and that dogs can get Lyme Disease as well. You provided very detailed information that dog owners should be aware about.

    But I’m just wondering, if the dog is exposed to the disease but never develop any symptoms, does it mean– the dog is safe?

    Anyways, I’ll keep this in mind just in case I’ll have a dog.



    1. Good question about being safe,Mina. Life is full of unsafe things so there is never any sure fire guarantee for anything. Or dogs are exposed to many things in everyday life (and so are we). If we think about that too much we would never go outside.

      Best defense is to keep yourbody healthy to naturally protect against these diseases.

  8. Thanks for bringing this issue to light that’s causing thousands of dogs around the globe grief as we speak. I’m all for helping our furry friends and I want me and my friends dogs to be safe and healthy all the time so I will be implementing these tips and sharing them with all my friends. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Brandon,
      Yes, there is a lot we can do for our companions. They depend on us for many things although they require so very little. Thanks for sharing! Tim

  9. I often let my dog outside and so far I did not pay attention to this things. Once my dog had a hard breathing and I called the vet immediately. He gave him vaccine and all was fine. What was strange to me is that vet didn’t know the reason for hard breathing. I will for sure pay attention on those ticks.

  10. Thanks for this informative article on Lyme disease versus Lyme tick exposure.  I had really never thought about the difference.  You are right about checking your pet daily for ticks and most especially when he/she takes a tour around the neighborhood woods!  Here in Louisiana, mosquitoes are our #1 danger marker and in all my years of pet ownership – many of whom roamed the wild in my younger days – I have never seen or heard of an animal in our area having Lyme disease – although we have had a number of adults with the disease!  Shocking, isn’t it?

  11. Good afternoon Tim,

    Reading your good post I was happy to see you prefer natural remedies for our pets. I fully agree with you as time ago we had an awful happening using Frontline on one of the cats. All is well now but it was a shock.

     My dear Cindy, a Rottweiler lady had a lump in her armpit. I discovered this on Christmas 2015. After talking to the vet I decided against having her operated on. I kept her alive with a cocktail of healthy things including Vit D3 and CBD oil. She died on June 7th 2018, I miss her very much.

    As I live in the south of Spain Lyme disease transmitted by deer ticks have not been a worry. She loved to roam the big property and sometimes even jumped the fence to visit the big avocado farm of my neighbour. I do not remember ever removing 1 tick from her. Here in the Mediterranean one is in general more on guard for Leishmaniasis.

    Thank you for pointing out some natural products for our pets, much better for everybody.

    Regards, Taetske 

    1. Sorry to hear that your lost Cindy a few months ago. I too have had a large lump removed from my lab Ellie Mae. She has cancer so we’ve been making sure she gets supplements to help her immune system. You did all you could…the D3 is easy to absorb and the CBD has positive effects for many things including pain relief. Thanks for checking in…and you’ve given me motivation to do an article on Leishmaniasis.

  12. Thanks for this information Tim, although it is a little worrying and heartbreaking at the same time (I didn’t realise it was such a problem!). 

    My dog often clears the fence and romps about in the tall grass area of our back garden, I will be keeping prevention in mind this summer and keeping that grass cut well down!

    Is there a simple vaccination they can take for this disease?

    1. Hey Chris- thanks for checking in and reading this article.  Yes there is a Lyme vaccination.  Many vets don’t even recommend it (neither do I) Here’s a great article in the NY Times expressing caution in using the vaccine.  It’s highly controversial and like any vaccine comes with it’s share of side effects.

      The true protection is prevention and keeping your dog healthy to be able to fight the disease naturally if they ever get exposed.

  13. As is the case with human doctors, it looks as though veterinarians are also performing unnecessary treatments to make money. It’s worrying that they’re giving dogs antibiotics when they’re not sick. The vaccinations are also unnecessary. Both people and dogs got by fine before vaccinations were invented. The reduction in infectious disease was mostly caused by better hygiene through the increased availability of clean running water,

    1. Well said!  I agree- a healthy body means a properly functioning immune system which will naturally fight disease.  Unlike human doctors (physicians for people that is)…veterinarians can sell the drugs and medications they prescribe.  It is a bit of a conflict of interest at least in appearance.  You are correct that vaccinations lower your body’s ability to fight the very disease you are vaccinated against.

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