Lyme disease is one of the most commonly transmitted tick-borne diseases in the world. Here, our Middlesex vets share information with you about Lyme disease in pets, including what it is, its symptoms and your treatment options.
What is Lyme disease?
Deer ticks carry the bacteria borrella which causes the infectious Lyme disease. This is transmitted when a tick bites an infected animal like a bird, mouse, or deer and the passes then infection along themselves when they bite subsequent hosts.
What symptoms of Lyme disease should I watch out for?
In our furry friends, the common symptoms of Lyme disease can range from malaise and depression to general discomfort, a lack of appetite and lameness caused by inflammation of the joints.
Also beware of any fever, difficulty breathing or sensitivity to touch.
How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?
If your suspect that your pet has contracted Lyme disease, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
During the appointment, your vet will ask a number of questions to gain a detailed understanding of your pet's medical history, then complete a battery of tests including urine analysis, fecal exam, x-rays and blood tests. Fluid may also be drawn from your pet's affected joints, then analyzed for 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?
The first line of defense against this disease is avoiding ticks as much as possible. Monthly products, sprays, and vaccines are available as well, although these generally work best before your poet has been exposed to Lyme disease in the first place.
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 pet to help prevent Lyme and other diseases spreading. Though our pets 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.