Can Dogs Get Lyme Disease? Understanding the Risks and Symptoms

Photo of author


Author: Jacob Kay

All dog owners should be aware of a dangerous bacterial infection known as Lyme Disease which is passed on by ticks to their dogs. It affects a number of mammals, including humans and dogs too. Ticks are spider-like small parasites that bite into the skin and suck blood from humans and animals. Initially, they are extremely small but increase in size as they continue to feed. Continue reading to find out can dogs get Lyme disease.

The tick-borne disease indicates an ongoing risk to UK dogs and also their owners.

What is Lyme Disease?

Warning Sign!
Heiko Barth – Shutter Stock

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, transmitted by ticks. It’s also known as ‘Borreliosis’ because the bacteria that causes it is called Borrelia. Dogs are at risk of contracting Lyme disease if they are bitten by an infected tick. Approximately 1.5% of ticks in the UK carry Borrelia. Borrelia bacteria multiply in the skin around the bite site and then spread throughout the body affecting multiple organs and joints. 

Ticks are usually very small in size, thus very difficult to spot. However, they grow during feeding when they take the blood of their host. Infection typically starts after the tick has been attached to the dog for approximately 24 – 48 hours.

Can Dogs Get Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease in dogs is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world, but it only causes symptoms in 5-10% of affected dogs. Therefore, it is also possible that some dogs may be infected, but never show symptoms. Transmission of Lyme disease has been reported in dogs across the globe including in the United States and Europe.

As pet ownership continues to rise in the UK, and so are the tick numbers increase, due to more dogs getting infected with ticks, the pet owner is also being vulnerable to ticks. Can dogs get Lyme disease? The more time a dog spends outdoors, the higher the chance it may get bitten. All dogs of any size, shape, and breed are at risk of Lyme disease.

What Are The Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs?

As mentioned above, almost one in ten dogs show the symptoms. These symptoms also tend to vary from dog to dog. Symptoms usually include:

  • High fever
  • Reduced appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
Dogs can exhibit some odd behaviors that owners may not understand. For example, some owners wonder - can dogs have wet dreams? While not directly related to Lyme disease, these types of questions come up frequently for dog owners. More research is needed to fully understand the range of dog behaviors and potential underlying causes.

How is Lyme Disease in Dogs Treated?

Tick being removed from the dog
Afanasiev Andrii – Shutter Stock

If you suspect your pet has Lyme disease, you should consult your vet within 48 hours. If the disease is diagnosed in its early stages, your vet will recommend a course of antibiotics. Longer treatment is usually recommended as by the time the symptoms show, the disease will have spread.

Lyme disease commonly responds to a course of antibiotics that extends for almost a month until the resolution of the symptoms. Initially, hospitalization is advisable to ensure pain relief for your furry friend. The bacterial infection can be difficult to clear entirely and relapses are common. Generally, even with an adequate course of antibiotics, the bacteria still tends to remain in some bodily tissues.

Preventing Lyme Disease

When it comes to Lyme disease, prevention is better than cure.

  • Vaccinations are available for Lyme disease. However, there are not 100% accurate in preventing Lyme disease.
  • If you notice your pet has a tick attached, remove it with a tick remover.
  • Always check your dog for any ticks attached after an outdoor play session.
  • Avoid going to longer grasslands
  • Use anti-tick sprays and collars
During this time, dogs may experience nausea and lack of appetite. Dog owners often wonder "can I give my dog Gaviscon" for these symptoms, but it's important to talk to your vet before giving any over-the-counter human medications.


How would I know If my dog has Lyme disease?

In dogs, the most common signs include fever, loss of appetite, swollen joints, weakness, and swollen lymph nodes.

Is Lyme disease fatal to dogs?

Not necessarily, however, if left untreated it can lead to permanent damage to the kidney, heart, and especially the nervous system.

How quickly does Lyme disease show in dogs?

Generally, dogs start showing symptoms within the first 48 hours. In some cases, dogs show their symptoms after a month also! Thus, it varies from dog to dog. Dogs can take up to 4 weeks (one month) to be fully recovered from this disease.

Can you catch Lyme disease from your dog?

No, Lyme disease cannot be transmitted from one source to another. Neither from dogs to humans, nor dogs to dogs.  However, the same carrier tick can come to your household and infect you and your family members, which is transmitted from your dog.

Do ticks fall off dogs naturally?

Yes, ticks tend to fall off dogs naturally when they’ve completed feeding on your dog. That also includes transmitting diseases (Lyme disease). Ticks can take up to 3-4 days to fall off.


I hope through this article I was able to answer the “Can dogs get Lyme disease?” query. Lyme disease can pose a threat to your dog, thus, prevention is needed in such cases. All the steps mentioned should be followed if you doubt that your dog has Lyme disease. Changing environment and climate can make your dog vulnerable to such diseases, thus, extra care needs to be taken to keep your dog safe.

While hiccups are not a direct symptom, some secondary effects of Lyme disease may result in hiccups, though the reasons why do dogs get hiccups are still being researched


  1. Meyers, H. (2022, April 8). Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment, and Prevention. American Kennel Club. Retrieved January 21, 2024, from
  2. Lyme Disease in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital. (n.d.). Vca. Retrieved January 21, 2024, from
  3. Lyme Disease. (2019, May 7). Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Retrieved January 21, 2024, from
  4. PetMD Editorial. (2022a, August 12). Lyme Disease in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment. PetMD. Retrieved January 21, 2024, from

Photo of author
Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

Leave a Comment

Affiliate Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to