Lyme Disease; Know the Signs and Prevention

Thanks to Dog Lyme for the Picture

I hate to admit this, because I try to be the best dog momma I can, but somehow one of my dogs has gotten Lyme Disease.

I always let my vet do her annual check and then I opt for a heartworm test (you just never know) and also test for Ehrlichia and Lyme Disease  both tick borne diseases.  I always make sure my dogs are current on yearly heartworm medication and treated for fleas and ticks, so I was a little surprised and saddened when his test came back positive for Lyme Disease.

When I lived in GA I thought the ticks were bad!  But the nice thing about the ticks of that area was that they were the size of large grapes, and so it was easy to tell if your dog had picked up a tick there.  The ticks of VA are much smaller and difficult if not impossible to see and or detect.

AND, we have 16 acres full of deer, opossums, raccoons and their ticks; plus we are avid hikers.

We once stopped (and were geocaching) and when I got back in the car I had hundreds, literally hundreds of ticks running all over my legs and shoes.   I have never de-pantsed and driven so fast to a gas station for bug spray in my life! 

I hate ticks!!  Spiders and ticks are my nemesis!

These Ticks are Easy to Spot

But, I always do my best to make sure my dogs are protected too.  So either the medication I was using failed, or somehow I failed at making sure they were adequately protected.

Like heartworm medication, flea and tick medication should be administered each month to adequately protect your dog.  And, even though some of those medications are not tick repellents they do typically kill the tick in the 48 hours or so before the tick is able to spread diseases.

Recently I had a reader who’s dog had also been diagnosed with Lyme Disease, so I wanted to share some information.

Lyme Disease is the most common tick transmitted disease in the world (yes people can also get it).  The dominant clinical in dog is recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints.

Other signs

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Kidney
  • Heart (rare)
  • And Nervous System disease (rare)
  • Sensitive to Touch
  • Stiff Walk
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Fever

Kidney disease appears to be more prevalent in Labrador, Golden Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Young dogs appear to be more susceptible to the disease than older or adult dogs.

Some dogs may develop kidney problems and if left untreated can cause kidney failure.

These Ticks are Harder to Spot


Most dogs are treated with a 4 week course of antibiotics which can help with pain and other clinical signs.

Unfortunately symptoms do not always completely resolve and some dogs can have long term joint pain even if the bacteria is gone from the dog’s body.


Prevention is the key.

Keeping your dog on topical products to kill and repel fleas (speak to your veterinarian about which products are recommended for you area).

And, there is also a vaccine that he/she may recommend to keep your dog safe.

Arm yourself with knowledge and a little tick spray prior to your hike and a good tick check after your hike and hopefully you will be able to avoid this tick borne disease!

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  1. I agree that prevention of tick and flea bite is of the utmost importance, for our dogs. It is also important to check ourselves and our children for these dangerours pests. When ever you come in from the fields or forests, check one another for signs of ticks or the tell tale bulls-eye shaped redness that indicates lyme disease. Remember to wear long pants, and tuck them into your socks to help prevent getting biten. Just last week my Grand-daughter, got bitten by a tick and we took her and the tick to the local hostpital, and thankfully there was not evidence of the disease.


  2. Tom P says:

    Thanks for the good info, as usual.. I hate using topical chemicals on my goldendoodle, Do you know if Avon Skin so Soft is a good repellant?


    Minette Reply:

    I don’t believe that will work long term on ticks. Although I agree with you, I think it is worth it to not have my dog suffer from this disease.

    Call your vet and see what they recommend for your area.


    Melody Reply:

    I live in VA and I have used skin so soft mixed with water, you really have to shake it alot so it will mix.I spray my dog and wipe off the excess. as long as she has the smell on her she does not get ticks. Also my local “country store” sells something called 7 dust. this year I asked if it hurts pets(dogs) and they said no it does not. you typically spread it on your yard to keep ticks and fleas away. I am going to get some and try it.


    Nora McGuire Reply:

    I don’t know if it would work on dogs but I find Avon so soft the only thing that stops me from midge bites which I am allergic too. Its a wonderful product to have handy and worth a try.


    paul jennings Reply:



  3. Bev Patek says:

    We had an infestation of ticks a couple of years ago. I have now gone to Diatomaceous Earth to make sure we never get them again. Our kennels, large dog yard and our back yard are all powdered with DE as it kills anything with a crustacious shell. We also use it for worming. It’s all natural which what we like about it most. The dogs poo dries up & flies that touch it are said to die within so many hours. So far we have no ticks since we’ve begun to use it 2 yrs ago.


    Angela Christopherson Reply:

    This is the most useful info, thank-you so much for sharing that. It is the safety question on “safe for my pet?” resolved! Thanks again, AGC


    Sharon Lindsay Reply:

    Thank you so much for this info!! We live in Western NC (Murphy) and I have never seen so many ticks as this year.

    I have a Yorkie and I have been using Trifexis, from the Vet, which is a once-monthly tablet that kills fleas, prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections, with great results so far.

    The ticks I have removed from her have been only in her hair alive …. but most were dead!

    I will order the Diatomaceous Earth for the yard!!
    Thanks again!!!


    Marilyn Reply:

    Please make sure that you buy only food grade diatomaceous earth and not the one for pool filtration. It is processed differenftly and contains toxic metal and is dangerous.
    The bag I purchased from an organic feed mill has a pic of a horse and a dog. Go to and get a 10 lb bag. I use it for my horse and chickens and garden.(:-)


  4. Ellen King says:

    Ticks ‘as large as grapes’ are engorged with blood, and therefore have already been on your dog for a while. All ticks are basically small, regardless of US region.
    At least one chemical product for fleas and ticks contains a tick repellant as well as poison. Check the labels.
    The pet industry has developed some wonderful products over the years, as well as harmful ones. I personally think that ‘chemical’ protection is currently well warranted in the case of insect borne diseases.


    Minette Reply:

    Whereas that is true regarding the size of that specific tick, not all ticks can engorge that large and be that easy to spot. There are many kinds of ticks. Unfortunately 🙁


  5. Valerie says:

    Hi thanks for the informationon tics.

    We are so lucky in New Zealand that we do not have such things

    Cheers Valerie


    Minette Reply:

    I may have to move in with you!!


  6. Lorian says:

    Would the Diatamaceous earth also work as a repellant for fleas? I have a small kennel in SA and we struggle more with fleas than with ticks and was just wondering if you had found this product effective in the control of fleas, or if you could suggest something else natural that I could use.

    Thank you for your help.


  7. David Halevi says:

    Good day,

    If I understood right, you treat your dog for heartworm once a year. Here in Israel, they are given a shot against it every three months.
    Please your advice.
    Thank you for the intersting tips you send me regularly.



    Minette Reply:

    Most Heartworm medication here is given every month. There have been injections but the six month injection used here years ago was pulled off the market because of allergic reactions.


  8. Pam says:

    I had one dog, one cat, and two horses diagnosed with Lyme this year. I use a holistic vet mostly and he tells me that Lyme has become so prevalent that he now tests every animal he treats. Luckily, his holistic treatment is so much easier and safer for the pets. Just a homeopathic spray for about three weeks and then retest to make sure they are clear. Then I use the spray once a month as a prevent. Lyme can be difficult to diagnose and to treat if it has become chronic.


  9. Patty says:

    I was wondering how you feel about the flea pill comfortis ? I have been using it for several years with good results.It was recomended by my vet they also like adams flea spray. What products would you suggest to spread on my yard to keep it safe for my dogs .


  10. Sue Mattu says:

    Where can I purchase Diatamaceous Earth?


  11. Diane says:

    Since, natural is best as well as- environment friendly – cost effective solutions, I’m sharing one such treatment here. This is a quote from a blog I read. I mixed some up and have been spraying my puppy with it….and myself as well! I didn’t get bit by bugs while working in the yard and its safe for both of us! In addition to other preventive measures.

    “It has been tried out by a good friend of mine Lenka on all kinds of her numerous pets. It has also been tested by my mom on her cats and several of our retired huskies, who reside with my parents. I got the recipe from my mom and both her and Lenka swear by it.

    Last summer, I tried it out as repellent on some of the dogs, to see how it would work against mosquitos (you see, here we are with the suckers that complicate our life over here!) and it actually did work!

    So, since for many of you around the globe the wood tick season has officially started, let me present you my two cents.

    • Rosemary (either 20g (or 1oz.) of dried or a handful of fresh)
    • 1 table spoon of white wine vinegar
    • 1 liter (4 cups ) of water
    1. Let water boil. Set aside from the stove, add rosemary and let cool down under a lid.
    2. After it cools down completely, filter the contents. You can use a regular medium to large sifter.
    3. Add white wine vinegar and stir well. Fuse into jar or bottle, close and store in fridge.

    For easy use you can pour the infusion into a sprayer bottle. A recycled sprayer bottle from any cleaning detergent, properly washed out, is fine, or you can buy it in a gardening shop.
    You can also pour part of it into a smaller sprayer bottle and take it with you on your travels, hiking, camping or other trip outdoors.

    You can spray your pet (make sure to protect their eyes and nose) and yourself as well.


    Nancy Reply:

    I am glad to have this “recipe” for repelling tics. My dog is a hound and she loves to look for squirrels and rabbits and deer in wooded areas. I found a tic on myself twice this year, although I have not found any on her yet. I prefer to use natural ingredients if I can so this formula is perfect. I hope it works!


  12. Stella says:

    We have lots of ticks in Oregon, my husband got one on him in his armpit and it got really infected! The vet gave us tick medicine for our puppy (12 weeks old) but she acted as if it was burning her skin and I had to give her a bath as she was very distressed, so I don’t know if it is going to be effective. Wat kind of spray is used?


  13. Gayle Watkins says:

    I agree that ticks are a major concern for all of us. I keep my dogs relatively chemical free but am comfortable with topical flea and tick products. There have been a number of research studies that show dogs on topical flea and tick repellents either have no increased risk of cancer. The Golden Retriever Health survey found Goldens on topicals had lower rates of cancer.


  14. Barb Peets says:

    Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is definitely good to use to get rid of fleas as well as ticks and flys. Once I started sprinkling it around the barn the fly population has really gone down too. It needs to stay dry so reapply if it rains … works well in the house too. The reading I have done says it can be up to 2% of an animals food … I don’t feed it to the dogs but I have had people tell me they feed it to their horses to take care of worms. I live in Tennessee and the fleas have been very bad this year since we did not have a very cold winter. Frontline Plus has not worked this summer for me so I’ve switched to Promeris. Good luck to all with dealing with Pests like fleas, ticks and flys. All you country folks … Guenia Hens sure love ticks. Since I got my guebias I haven’t found a single tick on the dogs.


  15. Bev Patek says:

    Yes, it is good for ticks too. Go to: Click on: food grade diatomaceous earth. You can read about it there. They carry all natural products which I love. Several years ago my puppies had the dressed parvo virus. I saved them with their products. Forever grateful that I had found them.


  16. Gryphon says:

    Wonderful post. Lyme disease is a scourge in the Northeast. If you are inclined towards nature outings or live near a wooded or forested area, you are not stranger to Ticks. They’ll be on you, your kids and animals. The key as you mentioned is observation. We check our dogs constantly for ticks and so should you. Thanks again for the great and timely post.


  17. Anna says:

    We live in Louisiana. We don’t have many ticks but fleas and flies can be awful and of course Mosquitos!! I came across something online called mosquito barrier @ It is 99.9% garlic. It worked great for the Mosquitos killing them on contact when we had literally thousands swarming our back porch after a recent flood. You can spray all of your property. It repels ticks, flies, and other pests. We sprayed our garden with it and the bugs were scattering like crazy! Another great use is killing FIRE ANTS!! We have had many mounds. You’re supposed to take off the top of the mound with a shovel and pour the stuff on it. The smell outside when spraying it is very garlic-y buy it makes me think of an Italian restaurant! It comes in a concentrate and you mix it according to what you’re killing. An best of all it’s safe for pets, kids, and plants!


  18. arlene says:

    I went camping this past week end and made up the spray. One of my friends put it on herself before she went down by the pond and she said it worked great she didn’t get bit once by a mosquito.


  19. Jean says:

    You can also use beneficial nematodes to kill fleas, ticks, fireants and several other insects. After having a dog die from nasal cancer which is believed to be caused by environmental exposure to things like pesticides and household cleaners, I used nematodes for the first time this spring. I have not found a flea on either of my dogs. Also less flies, fireants and grubs. You can buy them online or find them at some plant nurseries. Unlike Diatamous Earth, nematodes actually like moisture so there is no need to reapply after it rains. You will need to reapply periodically (I did 2 applications 4 weeks apart).


  20. Debbie Miller says:

    We use a garlic liquid called Kyolic. A few drops in our dogs food and the ticks lice and fleas are gone. Of course the gas is sometimes not, but our dog stays in the house and she hasn’t seemed to have any problems. You can get kyolic at any health store.


  21. Judy Castle says:

    We live in Northern Australia and there are the shell back ticks here. Highly toxic and very hard to find as they are extremely small to find and effect humans with severe headaches and norsia. Occasionally they get very bad as if the tick medicatio is actually feeding them. Just have to check the animals everyday or as often as possible. they cause peralassis too.


  22. Astonblake says:

    Thanks a lot for your information.But i have a question what types of laboratory test is required for diagnosis the lyme disease?


    Minette Reply:

    A blood test


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