Lyme’s disease is one of the most devastating diseases for your pet and can eventually cause death through kidney failure if left untreated. Your dog can only get Lyme’s if an infected tick was attached to your pet for a minimum of 48 hours.
The good news is that Lyme’s disease only affects about 10% of dogs. The bad news is the symptoms of Lyme’s disease aren’t as easy to discern in dogs as they are in people. Your pet may not even exhibit symptoms until months after the bite, or they may not have symptoms at all.
There’s no telltale rash, and the animal can’t necessarily tell you whether or not they’re not feeling well. It’s up to you to protect your pet as well as to be aware of the signs that your dog could have Lyme’s disease.
Here are five signs that your pooch may have contracted Lyme’s disease from an infected tick.
- Stiff Movements
You know your pet better than anyone. Pay attention to how your pet moves. Stiff, uncoordinated movements could be an indication of Lyme’s. Your dog may also move as if he or she is in pain, which is likely the case if your dog has contracted Lyme’s disease. If you notice arthritis-like symptoms in your pet, it might be time for a vet visit.
- Not Eating
If your pet is infected with Lyme’s disease, their appetite may decrease. Your pet may act hungry, but when the dinnertime comes around, they stay away from their food. Not eating can be a life-threatening symptom in any animal—if you pet refuses to eat or is not eating enough for more than 12 hours, seek veterinarian help.
- Lack of Energy
Each pet’s energy level is unique. While breeds like bulldogs can tire easily, terriers and shepherds usually require lots of exercise. You know what’s normal for your pet and what isn’t. If you pet starts acting lethargic or showing disinterest in their normal playtime, contact your local vet. You could be seeing a dog that’s actually not feeling well because of the onset of Lyme’s disease.
Dr. Judy Torchia of Nippers Corner Pet Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee sees this symptom in dogs infected with Lyme’s. “The symptoms I have seen have involve joint pain and lameness. Sometimes the dog has had a fever. Often the dog will just feel lethargic and slow down if multiple joints are affected.”
- Sensitivity to Touch
This sign is a little more difficult to discern, but if your pet is acting shy about being touched or interacted with, you may be seeing a sign of Lyme’s disease. Although there are other reasons a dog may not want to be touched, consider Lyme’s disease among them. Your pet may also be running a fever or just be feeling an all-over generalized pain. Talk to your veterinarian about getting a blood test for Lyme’s disease.
- Painful Joints
If you have an older dog, this one might be a little more difficult to notice, especially if your pet has arthritis. The painful joints that can come with Lyme’s disease often mimic the signs of arthritis in dogs. Signs that your dog’s joints may be painful include:
- Limping when walking or running
- Difficulty moving from one position to another
- Trouble going up the stairs
- Swollen joints
It’s not always easy to tell when your pet is in pain, but you can be aware of how your pet’s behavior changes. Generally, you’ll be able to tell when your pooch isn’t feeling well and when it’s time to seek help.
Once your pet has Lyme’s disease, there’s no way to get rid of it. Your pet may exhibit these signs if they get Lyme’s, but many animals show no symptoms at all. However, if you catch Lyme’s disease early, you can prevent your dog from getting sicker as the disease progresses. Talk to your veterinarian about the signs and symptoms of Lyme’s disease!
This article was written by Jenn Ryan and features expert testimony from Dr. Judy Torchia of Nippers Corner Pet Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. When Jenn isn’t writing, she loves running, reading, and playing with her four rescued rabbits.