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How will my dog get Lyme disease? Lyme disease is spread by one genus of tick, Ixodes (shown below). Borrelia burgdorferi lives in the tick and is transmitted to mammals when the tick takes its blood meal. Infections are most common in the summer and fall when tick activity is highest. Other diseases spread by ticks include Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.
How can I determine if my dog has Lyme disease? The organism can be detected by performing serology testing on a blood sample collected by a veterinarian.

What is the treatment for Lyme disease? Infected dogs can be treated for 21-28 days with antibiotics (tetracycline, amoxicillin, or ampicillin at standard doses). Supportive care involving pain relievers, rest, and fluids may also be required, depending on the severity of the disease. The disease may show up again after several weeks or months and often will respond to antibiotic treatment.

How is Lyme disease prevented? There are many vaccines available for the prevention of Lyme disease. Some of the more common vaccines include Galaxy Lyme (Schering-Plough) and LymeVax (Fort Dodge). Because this disease tends to vary in its geographical distribution, a local veterinarian may be the most useful source of information on prevention.

Because the organism is not transmitted immediately when the tick attaches, daily tick removal is very beneficial. It is important to safely remove embedded ticks. Ticks should not be removed, squeezed, or crushed with bare hands because this can facilitate transfer of the disease organisms. Gloves should be worn when removing and disposing of the ticks. Ticks should be held as close to the embedded mouthparts as possible and removed with constant traction in a straight path away from the point of insertion. There are specific hand tools that can be purchased as aids to tick removal. Routine treatments with baths, dips, and topical anti-tick products are also very helpful.

This article was written by the veterinarians at, Dr. Cody W. Faerber and Dr. S. Mario Durrant. Become a subscriber to Infovets Canine Manual in CD-Rom, online, or printed form and have instant access to this and hundreds of other articles, pictures, and video on canine health. Visit or call toll free 1-877-424-7838 to learn more about all that Infovets has to offer!
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