Lyme disease in dogs and cats

Lyme disease in dogs causes a variety of vague symptoms such as limping, stiffness, fever and low energy. Read our advice.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, transmitted by ticks. It’s also known as ‘Borreliosis’ because the bacteria that causes it is called ‘Borrelia’. Pets (and humans) are at risk of contracting Lyme disease if they are bitten by an infected tick that then stays on them for several hours to feed. Approximately 1.5% of ticks in the UK carry Borrelia. Borrelia bacteria initially multiply in the skin around the bite site, then spread throughout the body affecting the joints, and organs such as the kidneys, heart, and nervous system. Lyme disease tends to cause a variety of vague symptoms, which vary from pet to pet depending on where the bacteria spread. Lyme disease mostly affects dogs, people, and occasionally cats.

For more information on ticks and how to prevent them, read our articles:


Symptoms of Lyme disease tend to be vague, come and go, and vary from pet to pet. Symptoms include:

  • Limping and swollen joints – usually this starts in the joint closest to the tick-bite site, then shifts from leg to leg
  • Fever (high temperature)
  • Lethargy (low energy)
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands)
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nerve problems
  • Drinking and weeing more
  • Pets don’t tend to get the classic ‘bulls eye/target’ lesion that humans get if bitten by a tick with Lyme disease

Lyme disease is very rare in cats, and if it does occur, symptoms tend to be very mild, and sometimes not even noticeable.

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