Lyme disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria, or spirochete, called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted by the Eastern and Western black-legged deer ticks. Commonly referred to as deer ticks, these ticks preferentially use both deer and white-footed mice as hosts. Once thought to be a primarily Northeastern disease, Lyme disease has now been found in every state in the United States and even parts of Canada.



A diagnosis of Lyme disease is based on a history of exposure, clinical symptoms, a thorough physical examination, as well as a positive antibody response. As Lyme disease can progress to affect the kidneys, and as ticks often carry and transmit more than one disease, in addition to antibody testing, your veterinarian will likely recommend:


Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics, generally for a 28-day course. Prognosis is generally good as long as there are no complicating factors, such as Lyme nephritis. Lyme nephritis is an infection of the kidneys that often carries a poor prognosis.


Multimodal prevention is key in preventing Lyme disease. Both vaccination and the regular monthly administration of oral flea and tick prevention are the best options currently available. Regular tick checks and prompt removal of any attached ticks, using safe removal methods such as a tick spoon or long-nosed tweezers, will also help to reduce the likelihood of Lyme disease transmission.