Be on guard

Clinical Signs

Veterinary staff should be on guard for clinical signs of Lyme disease.

  1. Limping and/or lameness
  2. Joints appear to be painful and swollen
  3. Fever and enlarged regional lymph nodes
  4. No appetite
  5. Inactive and not playful

Assess for any of the following additional health concerns

  • Test dogs with non-specific lameness
  • Dogs with fever and non-specific signs
  • Dogs with no fever and non-specific signs

Making the diagnosis

Dogs presenting with clinical signs of canine Lyme disease, along with a positive C6 test, usually have confimation of the diagnosis of canine Lyme disease. However, the timing of the test and the onset of signs can make diagnosis difficult. A positive dog is infected with or without clinical signs, but could show clinical signs later.

  • Many dogs that test positive for canine Lyme disease do not show clinical signs at the time of the test
  • Dogs often do not present with clinical evidence of the disease for several months after the infection

Discuss the diagnosis with clients

The clinical exam offers the veterinary professional the opportunity to discuss canine Lyme disease with patients.

  • Discuss any signs you have noted during the exam
  • Ask pet owners to report any signs they see at a later date
  • Discuss any other health concerns you note in the clinical exam
  • If you suspect Lyme disease, discuss the importance of testing
  • Probe for risk factors, such as geographic area the dog lives in or travels in, lifestyle and contact with wildlife, even in the dog's own backyard
  • Ask if there have been ticks found during a tick check
  • Offer vaccination to other dogs living in the home

Early diagnosis is important

The greatest challenge to veterinarians is diagnosing Lyme disease early in its clinical course, when antibiotic therapy can be most effective. Complicating early diagnosis is that clinical signs may not express for two to five months post-infection and presenting signs may be misinterpreted as factors in other conditions and diseases.

Lyme disease
has been
found in all 10
The threat of Lyme disease is probably greater in dogs than in humans
Dogs will often show no signs of Lyme disease


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