Lyme disease in dogs - the symptoms and treatment

As pet parents, we’ve heard of and been warned about ticks and the danger they pose to our dogs, but we might not know too much about Lyme disease. Well, one of the problems with ticks is that they carry diseases which they can pass on when feeding on a host animal’s blood (that could be us or our pets). This includes the Borrelia bacterium, which causes Lyme disease.

The most common type of tick found on pets in the UK (the sheep tick – also known as Ixodes ricinus) is the main carrier of Lyme disease, so it’s important we stay informed about this creepy critter. Here’s what dog parents need to know to help keep our pets safer.


Is Lyme disease serious in dogs?

Unfortunately, it can be serious. Dogs can become very poorly as Lyme disease can affect the kidneys, heart and nervous system in some cases. Sadly, the disease can even be fatal in dogs if they’re not treated in time. So, getting the right treatment early as soon as any signs are visible is really important.

What are the symptoms?

The tricky thing about Lyme disease is it can be hard to diagnose because there are many different symptoms and it affects individual pets in different ways. Some dogs won’t show many signs, while others will be debilitated. 

Dogs can also show signs of infection up to four weeks after being bitten by an infected tick – the bacteria can remain in the pet’s skin for some time before working into the body. But there are signs to look out for. And if your dog shows any of these, it’s best to get them checked out by the vet right away.


If your four-legged friend suddenly seems more tired than usual, a bit under the weather, or if you have any reason to think they could have Lyme disease due to symptoms like those listed below, get them to the vets right away. There might not be a visible tick on your pet, but remember that the parasite that caused the infection could be long gone by now.

Keep an eye out for the following:

  • seeming off-colour and not their usual selves (this is an early sign)

  • lameness in one or more legs

  • swollen or enlarged lymph nodes

  • fever

  • reluctance to eat or reduced appetite

  • tiredness and low energy

How can I protect my dog against Lyme disease?

It’s better to prevent a problem from occurring than to solve it. So here are some easy steps pet parents can take to help keep our lovely dogs safer from Lyme disease.

Regularly check dogs for ticks

Especially if they’ve been for walkies in areas full of vegetation – parks, heaths, woodlands and even manicured lawns. Pay close attention to the head, ears, neck, feet, armpits and groin where ticks are more likely to be hiding.

Remove ticks safely as soon as possible

Don’t squeeze, pierce or burn a tick as this increases the chance of them passing on an infection to your pet. Instead, gently twist out the tick in one direction using a specialist tick remover tool. Wear gloves as people can get Lyme disease too. Put the tick in a plastic bag, seal it and dispose of it in an outdoor bin or send it to Public Health England as part of their Tick Surveillance Scheme.

Vacuum regularly

This will clear up any ticks about that have dropped off a pet or a person’s clothing.

Use a tick treatment

Treating our dogs regularly at the correct interval gives them the best chance of staying protected against ticks. Check whether your flea treatment also kills ticks – not all do, but FRONTLINE®flea and tick treatments kill both parasites. FRONTLINE TRI-ACT® for dogs kills new ticks within 6 hours and also repels them, which helps to prevent them from biting your dog in the first place.

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Take your dog’s parasite protection to the next level

FRONTLINE TRI-ACT® has a unique formula that kills faster1 and repels more2 disease-carrying parasites than the next leading competitor brand.


1 Compared to next leading non-prescription competitor brand and when used monthly.

2 Compared to next leading non-prescription competitor brand with repellent activity.

It’s great that such simple steps can help us protect our dogs against ticks and Lyme disease. But of course, even with the utmost care, a tick could still end up on our dogs. If this happens and your dog doesn’t seem themselves afterwards or shows other signs of Lyme disease, take them to the vet. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our favourite four-legged friends.

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