Is it safe to be around a dog that has Lyme disease?

Original Question: Dr. Clayton could you tell me if being around a dog when it has Lyme disease is safe people or not? Thank You. - Wayne

Is it safe to be around a dog that has Lyme disease? Mar 5, 2018

Hi Wayne,

Thanks for this question; it’s a pretty straightforward answer.

Lyme disease is a lifelong condition that can cause recurrent episodes of fever, malaise, and lameness in our dogs. It can lead to kidney damage and even death in some cases.

This is a bacterial infection that is becoming increasingly more common. There are health alerts every year across North America about the rise of this disease in both pets and people. Climate change is one factor that is being blamed for it’s increased incidence.

Lyme disease is a bacterium that is spread through a tick bite. The ticks have to be feeding on humans or our pets for a minimum of 24 hours in order to transfer the disease. By performing a ‘tick check’ daily and removing any that are found is one way to reduce the chance of acquiring the disease. Other strategies are employed, such as avoiding wooded areas, staying on defined paths during walks, using preventive tick medication, wearing protective clothing and performing diligent and thorough tick checks.

To answer your question, Lyme disease cannot be transferred directly from a pet to a human. It requires the ‘vector’ of a tick to transfer it. Being around a Lyme positive dog does not pose a direct threat, but if a tick carrying the Lyme bacteria is brought into the house on your dog and it subsequently bites you, then that poses a risk. Looking for any tick on yourself on a daily basis and removing it within a 24-hour period would avoid and reduce any risks. If you feel you have been bitten seek help immediately and if your dog has been bitten contact your veterinarian. I encourage you to check out our video ‘Tick and Lyme Disease Prevention in Dogs’ for more information about this topic.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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