Does cold weather affect Lyme disease in dogs? A Comprehensive Guide

How Do I Know If My Dog Has a Flea or Tickborne Illness?

The symptoms your dog will display from a tickborne illness depend on the illness contracted. Ehrlichiosis, for example, is an illness transmitted by brown dog ticks that can present symptoms like:

  • Depression and/or lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Runny eyes and nose/discharge
  • Spontaneous nose bleeds
  • Bruising on gums and belly
  • Lameness/joint pain
  • Spontaneous and shifting leg lameness
  • Reluctance to move
  • Depending on the tickborne illness, your dog may show no symptoms or symptoms may take several months to display. Since signs may be subtle or appear like those of other common illnesses, we recommend speaking to your veterinarian to screen for tickborne illness at your dog’s annual exam rather than waiting for symptoms to appear.

    Does My Dog Still Need Flea and Tick Medication in the Winter?

    Yes! Although fleas and ticks become dormant or at least slow down in cold weather, many areas across the United States are no longer reaching consistent temperatures that would typically stop all flea and tick activity. Since fleas and ticks carry diseases that are harmful to your dog, we highly recommend keeping them on regular flea and tick prevention treatment throughout the year.

    Your Lyme literate doctor can provide treatments beyond traditional antibiotic protocols, which don’t always eliminate the pain. Modern Lyme specialists can provide treatments such as apheresis, which is the process of replacing your infected blood and plasma with healthy versions.

    This happens a lot because Lyme disease tests are often inaccurate. Also, arthritis can be caused by multiple sources. This means you can test negative for Lyme disease even when you have it. Some doctors stop testing you after a negative result. They then assume your arthritis is caused by some other reason, like a decrease in cartilage around your joints.

    Winter symptoms can include fatigue, stiffness when you wake up in the morning, stiffness when changing positions, numbness, tingling, and fever. The stiffness prevents you from fully utilizing your arms, legs, and any other body part with arthritis.

    Before going out into the cold, put on warm gloves or use hand warmers. Wear warmer clothing, especially around the joints that are inflamed. While in the house, use hot water bottles and electric blankets to keep warm.

    Other treatments include oxidative medicine, pain medication, parasite inactivation, and hyperthermia. These treatments can be complemented with the use of nutraceuticals and IV therapies.

    Lyme disease in the dog. Dr. Dan explains Lyme disease

    Ticks in winter aren’t as active as they are in the warmer months, but they may still come out on days when temperatures rise above freezing. Once they become active, they will want to feed, and will lie in wait for suitable hosts like your cat or dog.

    Ticks primarily live in tall grass, brush, and wooded areas, and are most active between the months of April and September. However, many species of ticks will emerge year-round on days when temperatures reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Interestingly enough, recent research suggests that some species of ticks in the U.S. have become more resistant to cold temperatures and can tolerate lower temperatures than they could in the past.

    Ticks are parasitic arachnids that feed on the blood of mammals, birds and other animals. They spread many serious disease, including Lyme Disease, Powassan Virus Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tickborne Relapsing Fever, and more.

    Dogs are very susceptible to tick bites and tickborne diseases but may not show signs of illness until 7-21 days after being bitten. That’s why the CDC advises using veterinarian-recommended tick preventative products on dogs and cats, even in winter, if they’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors.

    On warmer days, check your pets for ticks daily after they’ve been outdoors, and remove any ticks you find right way. If you know or suspect your pet was bitten by a tick, monitor them closely for changes in behavior or appetite, and contact a veterinarian if you notice symptoms.

    If your pet picks up ticks on warm days, they may bring them inside your home, which also puts your family at risk of tick bites.

    To reduce the risk of your pet picking up ticks, avoid walking them or letting them play in grassy, brushy and wooded areas on warmer days. To reduce ticks in your own back yard, the CDC recommends removing leaf litter, clearing tall grass and brush, placing a 3-foot barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas, keeping grass short, and removing old furniture, mattresses, or other items that give ticks a place to hide. Also, avoid attracting wild animals like deer, racoons and stray animals to your yard.

    If you have ticks in your yard and want help getting rid of them year-round, FlyFoe can help you protect your turf. To learn more, contact us today at