Unfortunately, Lyme disease is a common canine disease. The disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a spiral-shaped bacterium that is carried inside certain species of ticks. Also known as Lyme borreliosis, Lyme disease can be transmitted to both animals and humans through a tick bite.
Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease (transmitted by arthropods or insects) in the United States. Most cases are reported in dogs; however, infections can also occur in cats, cattle, and horses. How is Lyme disease transmitted?
The bacteria that cause this disease live in deer, mice, and other small mammals. Ticks that can transmit the bacteria from these animals are known as Ixodes ticks. Normally, ticks cannot fly or jump, they can only crawl. When a dog walks through dense vegetation that has these ticks, a tick quickly gets onto their host. The tick then crawls to find a place to bite, infecting its host.
It is important to note that pets infected with Lyme disease may not show any signs immediately. Some may even take up to two to five months before they show any symptoms. Typical symptoms to watch out for include:
· Decreased activity.
· Joint swelling.
· Lameness (can be recurring or intermittent).
· Loss of appetite.
If not treated, symptoms can progress, causing serious neurological and cardiac effects.
Usually, a diagnosis of Lyme disease is made based on signs of arthritis, and if the pet has a history of being in an endemic area. To test for Lyme disease, a vet will test your pet’s blood to measure antibodies to the bacteria. If the blood test comes back positive, that means that your pet has been exposed to the bacteria. Note that the blood test can come out negative if the disease is still in its early stages.
Once your pet has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, your vet will prescribe antibiotics which usually last at least 30 days. For severe cases, the medication can quickly resolve the symptoms, but the infection may persist. Prolonged medication or other therapies may be needed to resolve such cases.
If you have more than one pet and one has tested positive for Lyme disease, you should consider having the other pets tested as well.
Check your pets for ticks regularly. Pets like dogs spend time outside. Ensure that you feel them for any bumps on their skin by parting fur to see the coat. Check inside their ears, around the neck, and under the legs.
Take care of your yard. Mow your lawn regularly and pull any tall weeds around your compound. Avoid leaving your trash cans open to prevent rodents that carry deer ticks from accessing your compound.
Use tick preventive products. Ensure that you use products that are recommended by veterinarians on all the animals in your home.
Vaccinate your animals. Vaccinations protect pets from Lyme disease. Vaccinations are more effective on animals that have not been infected by Lyme disease before.
As you take care of your pets, ensure that you also protect yourself from deer tick bites. While grooming your pets, wear treated clothing, and take a shower after being outside. Check yourself and your family for ticks as well.
At Community Pet Outreach, we have vaccination programs that protect your pets from Lyme disease. For more information about Lyme disease or to get your pet tested, visit us at our offices in Lewisville, Texas, or call us at (972) 848-8930 today!