Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete called Borrelia burgdoferi. These tiny organisms utilize 3 different hosts, parasitizing small mammals in their immature stages and larger mammals as adults. The disease is common on the east coast, but has been seen throughout most of the continental United States. Lyme disease can only be transmitted through the bite of a tick.
The most common presentation of Lyme disease in dogs is characterized by a lameness that seems to shift from one limb to another, along with generalized malaise. However, this disease can progress to serious kidney or heart disease. When diagnosed early, Lyme is easily treated with a course of the appropriate antibiotic. Most animals do not experience any long term adverse effects from the disease if treatment is initiated promptly. However, if the diagnosis is not made in a timely manner, the more serious forms of the disease can result.