Head of the Class Dog Training LLC 

Winchester, VA

Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs

Most of us live for the warmer weather when we can get outside with our dogs, soak in the sunshine and enjoy nature together. While the warmer weather is indeed something to long for, it’s also something to prepare for. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccines and taking monthly heartworm, flea and tick prevention.

In recent years, for those living in or visiting certain parts of the country, an additional vaccine has become recommended — the Lyme disease vaccine. While not all dogs need to receive this, many can benefit from the extra coverage.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. It’s transmitted through the bite of an infected tick and can affect dogs, as it does humans. Deer ticks are known to transmit the disease when they attach to their host and feed. They need to stay attached for at least 24 hours to transmit the disease, so frequent checks of your dog for ticks and quick removal provide added protection. Lyme disease is more prevalent in certain areas of our country, including the Northeast, mid-Atlantic states and upper Midwest.

What Are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

It may take months for symptoms to appear, but most frequently, dogs show the following signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Pain in joints/lameness
  • Decreased, or loss of, appetite
  • Kidney disease

If you suspect your dog has Lyme disease, or shows any of the following symptoms, get them to your vet immediately. Your vet will likely use a series of blood tests to make the diagnosis.

How Is Lyme Disease Treated?

Just like in humans, a rigorous course of antibiotics is usually called for, though it can be very difficult to completely eliminate the bacteria from a dog’s body. Multiple rounds of treatment and relapses are common. Your vet may also prescribe medications to manage joint pain and other symptoms as part of the treatment.


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For more information about Lyme disease and prevention as we head into the warmer months, speak to your vet. For other canine-related warm weather questions, such as “How do I stop my dog from pulling on walks?” or “Why won’t my dog come in from the backyard when I call her?” give us a call. Head of the Class Dog Training is here to help you AND your dog enjoy your time together — spring, summer, fall and winter!

Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.

Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.

She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.

How Can I Best Protect My Dog From Lyme Disease?

As mentioned above, there are a variety of ways to keep your dog healthy and prevent the contraction of Lyme disease:

  • Put your dog on a flea and tick prevention regimen.
  • Check your dog daily for ticks and use proper removal strategies when removing them from your dog.
  • Consider the Lyme disease vaccine if you live in an area where it is recommended (ask your vet) and your dog is 12 weeks of age or older.