Lyme Disease & Tick Season is Almost Here
Lyme Disease & Tick Season
It’s that time of year again when blood sucking parasites come out in force. Are you prepared? Constant itching is not the only problem. Ticks carry diseases. The most nasty is Lyme disease.
Can dogs and cats get Lyme disease from ticks?
Dogs, and rarely cats, can get several different infections including Lyme disease that are transmitted by ticks. Infections are regionally different throughout the country based on geographical changes and the type of tick present to transmit the disease.
What is Lyme disease?
The Lyme disease infection is caused by a bacteria called borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted by Ixodes ticks after attachment to the animal for a minimum of 24-48 hrs. Exposure usually occurs several months after exposure to the infected tick.
What are the signs that a dog is developing Lyme?
Most dogs exposed to Lyme disease are able to fight off the infection themselves and do not develop clinical illness. Clinical signs of Lyme disease are observed only in approximately 5-15% of infected canine cases. The most common clinical signs associated with Lyme disease infection include mild fever, lethargy, mild lymph node enlargement, joint swelling (arthritis in one or multiple joints), lameness (limping or abnormal walking/running behavior), and discomfort. Rarely dogs can develop a serious form of kidney disease that results in increased drinking, urinating, and decreased appetite.
How to treat Lyme disease in dogs
Lyme disease is treated with an antibiotic called doxycycline. Dogs with common signs of Lyme disease usually respond to treatment within days and antibiotics are continued for up to a total of 28 days. Dogs with the rare kidney form of disease require aggressive treatment and prognosis is guarded.
How to prevent dogs from getting Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses
- Inspect your dog. After walks through the woods or grassy settings, be sure to thoroughly check your dog. Take a careful look between their toes, under the tail, and around their mouth, eyes, and ears (do not forget the inside of the ears).
- Remove ticks immediately. Learn best practices for tick removal. The faster you find and remove a tick, the less likely it is that your dog will contract a secondary illness related to tick bites. To avoid tearing the tick and spreading possible infections into the bite area, use fine-point tweezers. Pull straight upward, in a slow and steady motion to prevent the tick’s mouth from breaking off and remaining embedded in your pet’s skin. If you are unable to do remove the tick yourself, consult with your veterinarian.
- Use flea and tick preventives. You may be able to prevent ticks from jumping on your dog and embedding within their skin by using a veterinary-approved flea and tick preventative. Consult with your veterinarian about the most appropriate product for your dog.
- Keep grass as short as possible and stay on paths. Refrain from walking into grassy patches, if possible. If hiking in the woods, try to stay on hike paths, away from high growth vegetation.
- Get your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease. Vaccination could prevent your dog from getting Lyme disease. However, the vaccine may not be appropriate for some dogs. Discuss the vaccine with your veterinarian to see what is possible for your pet.
Don’t let these tiny monsters take away your joy!