Lyme disease is caused by the spirochete bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans and dogs by ticks. It is common in the northeast United States. It is difficult to diagnose because most dogs and people who test positively for it are not clinically ill. Only about 10% of positively tested dogs will ever develop clinical symptoms. A lot of vets would argue that dogs that seem healthy do not need treatment even if they test positively for Lyme disease.
The most common signs of Lyme disease are lameness, fever, lethargic movement, and enlarged lymph nodes. Illness does not present itself until 2 to 5 months after infection. Most dogs respond very well to antibiotic treatment.
For Lyme disease to be contracted, the tick must be attached for 48 hours at the bare minimum. The best way to avoid the disease is to simply remove the tick as soon as it is found, or to carefully go over your dog’s body once a day to check for ticks. In addition to checking your dog manually, you could also invest in a topical parasiticide as suggested by your veterinarian.
There are several canine vaccines available to prevent Lyme disease. If this is something that you fear for your dog, you should mull this over with your veterinarian. Every dog is different, and not all dogs will need the vaccine.
It is also important to note that you can not necessarily get Lyme disease from your dog. You can get Lyme disease from a tick carrying Lyme disease only. If your dog has tested positively for the disease, you will not get it from simply being around your dog.
Ticks are active in warm weather and in cold weather as well. Just because it gets cold does not mean that they are gone.