What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease (Borreliosis) is an infection caused by bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted by deer ticks and can infect many different animals, including dogs, cats, and humans.
How does my pet get Lyme Disease?
An infected female deer tick can cause an infection when she bites and feeds on your pet. Currently, there is a bit of a disagreement as to how long the tick must be feeding before your pet can become infected, but it can range from 5 to 50 hours.
What happens once my pet is infected?
It can take quite a while before an individual starts to show symptoms of the disease (some individuals never show any signs). Once infected, the bacteria move through the bloodstream and ends up in areas of the body such as joints, muscles, tendons, skin and the heart. Once there, the bacteria cause an immune response, which in turn causes lameness, fever, and pain.
How do I protect my pet?
The only way to prevent Lyme disease is to prevent ticks from feeding on your pet. There are many different types of prevention you can use, including sprays, collars, powders, topical treatments, and pills. There are tests your veterinarian can run to check for Lyme disease, and regular testing is recommended in areas where deer ticks are found. If we can catch infections early, we greatly increase the chances of successful treatments.
What other things can I do to help my pet?
In places where deer ticks are present, avoid areas with long grass/dense vegetation and perform daily checks looking for ticks on your pet. If you do find a tick, remove it as quickly as possible in a safe manner if you are uncomfortable removing the tick, or do not know how – take your pet to your veterinarian. Also, there is a Lyme vaccine available that will help protect your pet.
Talk to your vet, they are trained to assess your pets individual risks and needs and will recommend the best preventative measure for you.
Written by: Elgin Animal Hospital