Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne illnesses on the planet. In this post, our New York veterinarians discuss Lyme disease in pets, including what it is, signs to look for and treatment choices.
What Is Lyme disease?
The bacteria Borrelia 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?
Lyme disease symptoms in our four-legged companions can range from general discomfort or malaise to depression, loss of appetite, and disability due to swollen 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 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 urinalysis, 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 dogs are diagnosed with Lyme disease, they are often treated as outpatients. This will usually entail at least a four-week course of antibiotics; however, your vet may also prescribe pain medicine if the condition has caused your dog a lot of discomfort.
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 most of them 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 pet to help prevent Lyme and other diseases from spreading. Though 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.