One of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world is Lyme disease. Here, our Baltimore vets discuss Lyme disease in pets: what it is, symptoms to beware of, and your treatment options.
What is Lyme disease?
Ticks carry the bacteria borella, which causes infectious Lyme disease. This disease is transmitted when ticks feed on infected animals such as mice, deer and birds, then pass the infection to other animals when the tick bites them.
What symptoms of Lyme disease should I beware of?
Common symptoms of Lyme disease in our four-legged friends include anything from general malaise or discomfort to lack of appetite, lameness due to inflamed joints or depression.
Also beware if your pet seems sensitive to touch, has difficulty breathing or displays signs of fever.
How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?
If you think your pet may have Lyme disease, book an appointment with your veterinarian.
During the appointment, your vet will ask several questions in an effort to understand your pet's medical history. A battery of tests will then be performed, including a fecal exam, urine analysis, blood tests and x-rays. Your vet may also draw fluid from the joints that have been affected and analyze them for symptoms of the disease.
What happens if my pet is diagnosed with Lyme disease?
Pets that are diagnosed with Lyme disease are typically treated on an outpatient basis. Treatment will typically involve at least a four-week course of antibiotics. However, your vet may also prescribe medications to alleviate pain if the disease has caused your dog to experience discomfort.
How can I prevent Lyme disease?
Preventing contact with ticks as much as possible will go a long way to helping your pet avoid the disease - and detect and control it in its early stages if a tick does land on your dog. Vaccines, sprays and products administered on a monthly basis are available, though many are most effective before dogs are exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
If you live in an area where Lyme disease is common, your veterinarian may recommend appropriate vaccines, boosters and parasite prevention treatments your dog should have. Though dogs will not directly infect people, it's still possible for our pets to bring infected ticks into the house, which can then attach to another person or animal and transmit Lyme disease. Promptly remove any ticks found on your dog to help prevent Lyme and other diseases from spreading.