How to Treat Lyme Disease in Dogs


Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness that affects dogs across the United States, particularly in areas with dense deer populations and warmer climates. In Chicago, the risk of Lyme disease in dogs is notably higher during the warmer months when ticks are most active. This blog aims to inform pet owners about the signs of Lyme disease, the importance of prompt veterinary care, and the treatment options available. For detailed advice and treatment, please contact West Loop Veterinary Care at our West Loop location at (312) 421-2275, or our Streeterville location at (312) 766-5959.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs

Lyme disease in dogs can be elusive and often mimics other health conditions. The first step in treating Lyme disease effectively is recognizing its symptoms early on. Common signs include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced energy
  • Swelling of joints
  • Lameness or limping
  • General discomfort or malaise

If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, especially after spending time in grassy or wooded areas, it’s crucial to seek veterinary advice immediately.

Advanced Symptoms

As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms can develop, which may include more profound and persistent lameness, kidney problems (Lyme nephritis), which can be life-threatening, heart complications, and neurological issues. Monitoring your dog for any changes in behavior or worsening symptoms is essential for their health.

Diagnosing Lyme Disease in Dogs

Early diagnosis can significantly influence the outcome for a dog with Lyme disease. Veterinarians typically use a combination of physical examinations, medical history, and diagnostic tests to confirm Lyme disease. These tests might include blood tests, C6 test, urine analysis, and possibly X-rays or an ultrasound if joint or kidney damage is suspected.

Treatment Options for Lyme Disease in Dogs

Antibiotic Treatment

The primary treatment for Lyme disease in dogs is antibiotics, typically administered over several weeks. Doxycycline is the most commonly used antibiotic for this condition, but other antibiotics like amoxicillin and azithromycin can also be effective depending on the case.

Supportive Care

In addition to antibiotics, supportive treatments might be necessary, especially if the disease has led to joint pain or kidney issues. This can include pain relief medications, dietary adjustments, and in more severe cases, hospitalization for more intensive care.

Ongoing Monitoring

After the initial treatment, ongoing monitoring is crucial. Regular follow-ups will help ensure that the infection is entirely cleared and allow the vet to manage any long-term health issues. Periodic testing may be advised to monitor the condition and prevent recurrence.

Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs

Effective prevention is crucial in protecting your dog from Lyme disease. Here are some actionable tips to help keep your pet safe:

  • Use Tick Preventatives: Regularly apply veterinarian-approved tick preventatives to your dog. These can include topical treatments, oral medications, or tick collars.
  • Daily Tick Checks: After your dog has been outdoors, especially in wooded or grassy areas, check them thoroughly for ticks. Pay close attention to the ears, neck, legs, and between the toes.
  • Maintain Your Yard: Keep your lawn mowed and bushes trimmed to minimize tick habitats in your immediate environment.
  • Avoid High-Risk Areas: During tick season, try to avoid letting your dog wander in dense woods or tall grasses where tick exposure is more likely.
  • Consider Vaccination: Discuss the option of a Lyme disease vaccine with your veterinarian, particularly if you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent.
  • Regular Vet Check-Ups: Regular check-ups can help catch any signs of tick-borne diseases early and keep your dog’s preventative care up to date.

When to Contact Your Veterinarian

If you suspect that your dog has been exposed to ticks or shows signs of Lyme disease, contact West Loop Veterinary Care. Prompt and effective treatment is the key to managing Lyme disease and ensuring your dog’s long-term health. Call us today at our West Loop location (312) 421-2275 or our Streeterville location at (312) 766-5959 to make an appointment.


West Loop:
(312) 421-2275

(312) 766-5959