You probably already know that if you get bitten by a tick, you can get Lyme disease, but you may not know that your four-legged friend is also at risk of this disease. When dogs are bitten by a tick that carries Lyme disease, they can get very sick, just like you can. Here's what you need to know about your dog and Lyme disease. 

Where are ticks found?

Ticks are found throughout most of the United States. The only state that doesn't have any ticks is Alaska, while every other state has at least one type of tick. They are found in areas of dense vegetation like forests or fields. If you like to walk your dog on hiking trails in an area with lots of trees, bushes, or tall grasses, you need to be worried about encountering ticks. 

Do all ticks carry Lyme disease?

Not all ticks are infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This is because ticks aren't the natural reservoir for the bacteria, they just help to transmit it. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is naturally found in wild rodents and small mammals like rats and mice, and when the ticks feed on these animals, they become infected. According to researchers, less than one-third of ticks are infected with Lyme disease.

How do you know your dog has been bitten by a tick?

When ticks bite, they remain latched onto the skin so that they can feed on blood for an extended period of time. As the tick feeds, it will fill with blood, and become engorged. If you check your dog's body, you should be able to locate these ticks. Run your fingers along your dog's fur, and if you feel a bump, push the fur aside to see if it's a tick. Ticks need to be removed immediately to reduce the risk of your dog contracting Lyme disease. 

What are the signs of Lyme disease in dogs?

The main symptom of Lyme disease in dogs is swelling in the joints, which will make your dog less willing or unable to walk or stand up. This swelling can come and go, so you may think your dog has recovered, only to discover them limping again in a few weeks. You may also notice that your dog is arching their back when they walk, or doesn't want you to pet them. Some dogs also stop eating or have trouble breathing. 

How do vets treat Lyme disease?

Your dog will be given antibiotics to kill the bacteria that's responsible for Lyme disease. The treatment takes a long time, just like it does for humans, and it doesn't always resolve all of the symptoms.

What happens if Lyme disease isn't treated?

Lyme disease can have very serious effects in some dogs. Kidney disease is the worst of these effects, and can lead to kidney failure and death. If your dog starts vomiting, develops diarrhea, and has swollen legs, kidney disease as a result of untreated Lyme disease may be the cause. 

Can you catch Lyme disease from your dog?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, you can't get Lyme disease directly from your dog. However, if the tick that bit them also bites you, for example, while you're trying to remove it from your dog's skin, you can become infected. 

Lyme disease isn't just a concern for people; it's also a concern for dogs. If your dog frequents areas where ticks are present, make sure to check their body regularly for signs of ticks. If you find a tick, or if you notice the symptoms of Lyme disease, take your dog to the vet right away. If you are looking for an animal hospital in the Gaithersburg area, then you can click here to find one.