Health & Wellness

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Lyme Disease From A Tick Bite

I have Lyme Disease. My dog does not.

dog-ticksOur vet thought this was odd, because dogs spend much more time closer to the ground and inevitably get a lot more tick bites than we do. Plus, 90% of the time we’re outdoors, our dog is usually with us.

…I guess the tick preventative that our dogs have always worn (Frontline Plus) really does work!

Here is the best way to remove a tick from your body …or your dog’s body.

Here are some of the ticks that we’ve found on our dogs (and on ourselves):

example-of-how-small-ticks-can-be.jpg tiny-baby-ticks-barely-the-size-of-one-adult-tick.jpg engorged-texas-tick.jpg

About Those Flea & Tick Preventatives…

The good news is: It appears that those flea & tick preventatives that we spend so much money on each year really do appear to be working.

We use Frontline Plus. We have for years. In my opinion, K9 Advantix would be just as good at preventing Lyme Disease in dogs. (For the record, the regular Frontline, without “plus” in the name, does not protect against ticks… just fleas.)

The best part about these tick preventatives: Even if a tick latches onto your dog, the tick will ingest the K9 Advantix or Frontline Plus that is in your dog’s system. This will cause the tick to die, or at least stop biting and maybe even fall off. I can tell you that I’ve actually found crusty old (and dead) ticks buried deep in my dog’s fur a few times.

This is evidence that:

  • I missed a few ticks when I was searching his body for ticks; and
  • Those ticks froze in their tracks when they ingested the Frontline Plus in my dog’s system.

But most times, ticks will not even latch onto your dog’s skin if Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix has been applied within the last 30 days. That’s reason enough to keep your dog on Frontline Plus or K9 Advantix, don’t you think?

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Lyme Disease

When I took Tenor in for his annual shots today, I learned something new. Our veterinarian said that he now uses the latest & greatest Heartworm test. And this one now tests for Lyme Disease (actually, it tests for spirochete — the microscopic bacteria that cause Lyme Disease) in addition to testing for the presence of Heartworms!

That’s how I found out that our dog does not have Lyme Disease today.

So, you may want to check with your vet to see if they offer the Heartworm test that also checks for Lyme Disease — especially if your dog gets a lot of tick bites.

In order to treat a dog for Lyme Disease, the dog must be showing symptoms. The primary way that Lyme Disease presents itself in dogs is in the legs and joints. If your dog suddenly cannot walk properly and it appears that the pain is in more than one leg, then your dog may have Lyme Disease. It is not until those particular symptoms are present that a dog can begin treatment for Lyme Disease.

And yes, Lyme Disease can be treated successfully in dogs, and they can go on to live a long and healthy life!

Did You Know?… They say that it takes 48 hours of attachment for a tick to give a dog Lyme Disease. That’s reason enough to always check your dog for ticks any time he’s been in tick-infested places. And continue checking for next 2 days, as well. You can’t be too sure.

There is a canine vaccine for Lyme Disease. In fact, many veterinarians (especially those in states where Lyme Disease is the highest) routinely vaccinate dogs for Lyme Disease every year, as part of the dog’s annual shots. However, the vaccine’s effectiveness, side effects, and true necessity are hotly disputed. Many feel that it’s just as easy (and less taxing on the dog) to only treat a dog when it shows symptoms, rather than to vaccinate the dog each year for its entire life.

Videos Of Dogs With Lyme Disease

About My Own Lyme Disease (…If You’re Interested)

For the longest time, Jim and I used products with DEET to prevent tick bites and ultimately lessen our chances of getting the dreaded Lyme Disease. It wasn’t until recently (long after I got the tick bite that presumably gave me Lyme Disease) that Jim and I discovered a better alternative to DEET. It’s called Permethrin. Ever since we started using it last summer, we haven’t had another tick on our clothes or our bodies. Not one.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me feel better about the fact that I got infected with Lyme Disease from a tick bite that I got more than 6 months ago — possibly as long as 2 years ago.

The truth is… Jim and I actually get dozens of tick bites each year — at least 10 each year for the past 7 years that we’ve lived in Tennessee. And that doesn’t include the multitude of tick bites I received when I lived in other states: Florida, New York, and Texas.

For the record, there is currently no reliable vaccine for humans against Lyme Disease.

An Interesting Side Note…

While our current dog (Tenor) doesn’t have Lyme Disease, our other dog that we had before him (Destin) had been diagnosed with another tick-borne disease called Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

He had it from the day we found him as a young puppy. Presumably, he got it from a tick bite in his first few weeks of life. (We found him at about 8 weeks of age. He’d been left in a dumpster.)

To our knowledge, Destin never suffered any ill effects of having the disease. He never showed any symptoms. That’s typical with both Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease in both humans and animals — sometimes the symptoms present themselves, and sometimes they don’t. Just the same, sometimes the disease shows up in blood tests, and sometimes it doesn’t.

Often these diseases won’t present themselves until many months or years after the fact.

The Bottom Line

After you bring your dog inside from a walk in the woods (or some other place that may have ticks), always take the time to check your dog for ticks!

If you find a tick on your dog, know that there will probably be at least one more.

A dog in the woods - hopefully he won't come in contact with any ticks or get Lyme Disease.

If your dog happens to start twitching, take him immediately to the vet. Your dog may have gotten Lyme Disease from a tick bite.

Did You Know?…

You can get Lyme Disease from your dog! Yep. If your dog has Lyme disease, then there is a chance that you have been exposed to Lyme Disease also. (Of course, you can get Lyme Disease even if you don’t find ticks on your dog.)