Lyme disease is one of the most commonly transmitted, and one of the most pernicious, tick-borne diseases in the world. In this post, our Frontier Veterinary Hospital vets will walk you through Lyme disease in your pets: what it is, what its symptoms are, and how it is treated.
What is Lyme disease?
The bacteria borrella is carried by deer ticks and causes infectious Lyme disease, which is transmitted when ticks feed on infected animals such as deer, birds and mice. This infection is then passed to other animals when the infected tick bites them.
What symptoms of Lyme disease should I watch out for?
In our four legged family members, Lyme disease's common symptoms can include anything from a general discomfort to a lack of appetite, depression, malaise and lameness from inflamed joints.
Also beware of any fever, difficulty breathing or sensitivity to touch.
How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?
Schedule an appointment with your vet if you suspect your pet may have Lyme disease.
During your appointment, your veterinarian will ask a number of questions about your pet's activities and behaviors in order to get a complete understanding of their medical history. They will then complete a number of tests, from blood work to x-rays urine analysis and fecal exams. They may also draw fluid from your pet's affected joints in order to detect signs of the disease.
What happens if my pet receives a Lyme disease diagnosis?
When diagnosed with Lyme disease, pets are usually treated on an outpatient basis. This will typically involve at least a four-week course of antibiotics, though your vet may also prescribe pain medication if the disease has made your dog especially uncomfortable.
How can I prevent Lyme disease?
Avoiding ticks as much as possible will go a long way to controlling and preventing disease. Sprays, monthly products and vaccines are available, although many work best before dogs are exposed to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Your vet may recommend appropriate boosters and vaccines if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common. You should promptly remove any ticks you find on your dog to help prevent Lyme and other diseases spreading. Though dogs will not directly infect people, our pets may bring infected ticks into the house, which may then attach to another person or animal and transmit Lyme disease.