Lyme Disease Symptoms in People and in Dogs



The symptoms of Lyme disease in people vary and may appear in stages. Please note the following is not meant to be an exhaustive list of symptoms. Also, it’s important to understand that ticks enjoy sharing and might infect a person with Lyme and also anaplasmosis and/or still another of many tick diseases. Each tick disease may have it’s own list of symptoms. What’s more so much about the affects of tick disease remain a mystery, and sometimes a controversial mystery.

Early signs and symptoms

A small, red bump often appears at the site of a tick bite or tick removal, and then it typically resolves over a few days. This is normal after a tick bite and does not indicate Lyme disease, or any tick disease(s).

However, these signs and symptoms may occur within a month after infection:

  • Rash:From three to 30 days after an infected tick bite, an expanding red area might appear that sometimes clears in the center, forming a bull’s-eye pattern. However, it’s important to note the rash may not be in the classic bull’s-eye pattern, or may not occur at all. No rash does not necessarily mean no Lyme disease. The presence of the rash may not indicate Lyme either The rash (erythema migrans) often expands slowly over days and can spread to 12 inches (30 centimeters) across. It is typically not itchy or painful. Pet expert Steve Dale writes about Lyme symptoms in people and in pets
  • Flu-like symptoms: Fever, chills, fatigue, body aches and/or  a headache may occur.

Later signs and symptoms

If untreated, new signs and symptoms of Lyme infection might appear in the following weeks to months. These include:

  • Erythema migrans:Popping up in other areas of your body or potentially recurring in the same place.
  • Joint pain: Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling – can affect any joint, most commonly knees.
  • Testicular or pelvic pain
  • Neurological problems.Weeks, months or even years after infection, developing inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell’s palsy), numbness or weakness in limbs, and/or impaired muscle movements.

Signs and symptoms caused by the bacterium Borrelia mayonii may also include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Depression and/or mood swings
  • Feeling confused and/or forgetful and/or difficulty multi-tasking. Light-headedness
  • Tingly sensations at hands, feet and/or elsewhere
  • Diffuse rashes (rather than a single bull’s-eye rash commonly associated with Lyme disease)
  • Feeling generally fatigued
  • Insomnia

Pet expert Steve Dale writes about Lyme symptoms in people and in petsLess common signs and symptoms

Several weeks or longer after infection, some people develop:

  • Heart problems, such as an irregular heartbeat. Heart problems rarely last more than a few days or weeks
  • Eye inflammation
  • Liver inflammation (hepatitis).
  • Severe fatigue
  • Newly developed beef or meat allergy (usually from Lone Star tick bites)
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

When to see a doctor….If you’ve been bitten by a tick and have symptoms

Only a minority of black-legged tick (deer tick) bites leads to Lyme disease. The longer the tick remains attached to your skin, the greater your risk of getting the disease, or a cocktail of various Lyme diseases. Lyme infection is unlikely if the tick is attached for less than 36 to 48 hours, and far less likely if removed within six hours.

If you think you’ve been bitten and have signs and symptoms of Lyme disease — particularly if you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent — contact your doctor. Treatment for Lyme disease is more effective if begun early.

The great imposter – Lyme is often not diagnosed, because symptoms are so general and may easily be mistaken for any number of other medical problems.

See your doctor even if symptoms disappear

It’s important to consult your doctor even if signs and symptoms disappear — the absence of symptoms doesn’t mean the disease is gone. Left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body from several months to years after infection, causing arthritis and/or nervous system problems an/or long-term illnesses noted above.

Citations:Pet expert Steve Dale writes about Lyme symptoms in people and in pets

Global Lyme Alliance

Mayo Clinic:

University of Illinois College of Medicine and


Pet expert Steve Dale writes about Lyme symptoms in people and in petsLYME DISEASE IN DOGS:

The signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in pets also varies, and some and while some are identical to those in people, others are not. Please note the following is not meant to be an exhaustive list of symptoms. Also, it’s important to understand that ticks enjoy sharing and might infect dogs with Lyme and also anaplasmosis and/or still other tick diseases. There’s still much for veterinary (and human) medicine to learn regarding tick disease.

  • Dogs with acute Lyme borreliosis may present with fever, shifting leg lameness, swollen joints (which may be tender to the touch), enlarged lymph nodes, lethargy, depression, and/or anorexia. In general, clinical improvement is observed following initiation of antibiotic therapy.
  • Mild focal meningitis and encephalitis without concomitant neurologic signs have been described in experimentally, but not naturally, infected dogs.
  • Rarely – but potentially fatal Lyme neuropathy.

In dogs, Lyme symptoms may be difficult to discern, sometimes mistaken for other issues (the dog is lame because she is an elderly dog, for example).  Also, symptoms often wax and wane, and may not be severe – and barely noticed by even family members. If they’re feeling just a ‘wee bit off,’ dogs have no way to tell us. However, no one wants their dog to feel “off” on a regular basis.

One thing is known for sure – if a dog is diagnosed, most often humans were at the other end of that leash – sharing the same environment as the dog. If ticks bite the dog, they’ll bite people too. And where there’s tick disease in dogs, there’s tick disease in people. dog on a tree stump in the woods


American Veterinary Medical Association:

Companion Animal Parasite Council:

Pet Health Network: