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TRANSMISSION OF LYME DISEASE

How it's spread.

IMPORTANT BUT PAINLESS BITE

An infected Ixodes tick (deer tick) transmits the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria through the skin by an important but painless bite. Most dogs (as well as people) do not even feel the bite, which is why the tick can remain undiscovered.

After the initial bite through the skin, the tick secretes "cement" to anchor to its host, making it difficult to remove. The deer tick then takes in its blood meal 30 minutes later.

Unlike most other insect bites, a deer tick's bite is painless and non-irritating because its saliva contains:

  • An anesthetic to numb and reduce pain
  • An antihistamine to reduce allergic reaction or itching
  • An anticoagulant to enhance blood flow
  • An anti-inflammatory to reduce swelling
  • An immunosuppressant to help aid in the transmission of pathogens


It's no mystery why we're unaware we've been bitten by a tick!

INFECTION DOES NOT HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY

The deer tick is usually very slow in transmitting the bacteria to dogs. Infection occurs only after the tick is partially engorged — as much as 24 to 48 hours after attaching to the dog6. This slow transmission of the disease demonstrates the importance of checking your dog for ticks after being outside, even in your own backyard. Brush your dog and look for ticks. Remember, though, deer ticks are small and difficult to find in a dog's hair coat.

HOW DO DOGS GET LYME DISEASE?

  • Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected Ixodes tick, also called "the deer tick"
  • The tick must be infected with a specific bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi for your dog to get Lyme disease
  • This bacteria is what actually causes canine Lyme disease — the tick is just the transmitter or "vector" for the bacteria
  • Dogs don't get Lyme disease from other dogs or people
  • Dogs can get Lyme disease anywhere there are infected ticks, such as wildlife areas or their own backyard


Talk with your veterinarian about a comprehensive tick-borne disease prevention program including Lyme vaccination.

CANINE RISK FACTORS


Learn the facts about how to assess risk by geography and exposure to deer ticks.


PREVENTION


Lyme Disease is largely preventable through tick control and vaccination. Get important details.


CASE STUDIES


Read about real dogs that were diagnosed with Lyme disease.