Lyme Disease and Pets

Can Dogs and Cats Get Lyme Disease?

Even dogs are at risk for contracting Lyme disease if bitten by an infected tick. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, 1 in 16 dogs in the U.S. will test positive for Lyme disease with 265,000 cases annually.

Symptoms can develop as early as one week or as late as three weeks after exposure. Pay close attention to whether your dog experiences changes in appetite or behavior. Pets will experience similar symptoms as humans including:

• Bullseye rash
• Fever
• Swelling of joints
• Weakness and lethargy
• In extreme cases, heart, kidney, and nervous system complications can occur

There are no confirmed cases of Lyme disease in cats in the United States. However, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease has been shown to be capable of infecting cats in laboratory settings.

If a cat were to be infected with Lyme disease, the symptoms would be similar to those seen in humans and dogs

Is There a Lyme Disease Vaccine for Dogs and Cats?

While there is a vaccine available for dogs, there is no vaccine currently available for cats. However, preventative treatments for cats are available and options should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Lyme vaccines can be administered safely to dogs 8 weeks and older. Certain manufacturers such as Vanguard, report 90% success rates in effectively protecting dogs against Lyme disease.

When receiving the vaccine for the first time, dogs will receive the first injection followed by a second booster injection 3 weeks later. After the initial two shots, one shot annually is required to maintain protection.