two dogs in field with tall grass

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs: Can dogs get Lyme disease in the UK? reading-time-icon 2 min read

Do you enjoy walking your dog in forests and woodland?

Of course you do!

Going for adventures is one of the best parts of owning a dog.

But if you regularly venture through wooded areas, or tall grass, it’s important to be wary. These areas are prime territory for ticks, and if your dog isn’t protected, they could be at risk of contracting Lyme disease.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection. It affects a number of mammals, including dogs, cats and humans.

Lyme disease is spread from smaller animals (birds, mice, hedgehogs) to larger mammals by ticks. When a tick ingests the blood of an affected animal, it becomes a carrier of the disease and passes it on to its next host.

Is it common in the UK?

More common than you might think – especially in rural areas. Ticks favour woodland or grasslands, particularly where the grass is tall or unkempt.

You may also encounter ticks in parks or public places. If it’s somewhere that pets visit often, there’s always the risk of ticks; and with ticks comes the risk of Lyme disease!

dog lying on back in a field

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs

Your dog may be suffering from Lyme disease if they display any of these signs:

  • Lymph nodes or swelling of the area where they’ve been bitten
  • Swelling of the joints
  • A high fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • General weakness or lethargy

Prevention

Apply preventative treatments regularly to keep your dog tick-free. There are many of these on the market, including tablets, collars, sprays and spot-on treatments. Have a chat with your vet for a better idea of which treatment will be most suited to your dog.

Even with the help of anti-tick sprays or collars, be sure to inspect your dog’s fur thoroughly after a walk – particularly if you’ve just wandered through a tick-prone area. Be extra vigilant during the warmer months too, this is ticks’ favourite time of the year. Check yourself and your children too!

Read more: What are ticks? How to prevent and get rid of ticks on dogs.

Depending on which preventative medication you use, it may take 12 hours or so for the tick to die – this is more than enough time for Lyme disease to spread. If you spot a tick on your dog, remove it as soon as you can; follow the instructions in the video below and if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, contact your vet as soon as possible.

Read more: How to... Remove a tick from a dog.

Treatment for Lyme disease

Treatment will likely include a form of antibiotics, but may vary according to your dog’s symptoms and the severity of their condition.

The important thing is… if you’re concerned that your dog is suffering from Lyme disease, always contact your vet as soon as you can.

Need more info?

For more help and advice on Lyme disease in dogs or how to keep your dog safe from ticks and other parasites, have a chat with your local vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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