Keeping Pets Out Of The Lyme Light
Many dogs love to frolic in the grass, run along the trees and bushes, and get a good breath of fresh air. But did you know that the outdoors is exactly where your pet’s arch nemesis likes to hide out? Ticks are commonly found in greenery, such as tall grasses, marshes, shrubs, and wooded areas, allowing them to cling onto your pooch as they pass by. Ticks can even be carried into your backyard or very own household through another animal. This is the perfect opportunity for your pet to be exposed to Lyme Disease.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is a very common tick-transmitted disease that can affect both humans and animals. It is caused by ticks that are infected with a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks contract this by biting small animals, such as mice, that already have this bacteria within them. It is then transmitted to dogs when the infected blacklegged ticks latch onto them and bite. It only takes one to two days for the disease to be transmitted.
Unfortunately, because of where ticks are found, active dogs that spend much of their time outdoors and among greenery are especially at risk of getting Lyme Disease.
How Will I Know If My Dog Has It?
Signs of Lyme Disease in your canine can take anywhere between a few days to several months to appear after infection. Naturally, the symptoms worsen and become more serious as time passes. They may include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen or inflamed joints
On top of these already unpleasant symptoms, Lyme Disease may lead to kidney and liver failure. Kidney problems are accompanied by their own set of side effects, including but not limited to drinking more, urinating frequently or infrequently, blood in the urine, vomiting, etc. This can even be fatal. In addition, behavioral changes and cardiac issues may arise (though this is rare).
The sure way to know if your pet has been affected by the disease is through a positive blood test accompanied by the listed symptoms and signs. However, due to the fact that these blood tests can take weeks to return with results, your veterinarian may also run a urine analysis, fecal examination, X-rays, chemistry tests, etc.
How Is It Treated?
Treatment is most successful when Lyme is detected early while your pet’s symptoms are less severe. It is most commonly treated with the antibiotic Doxycycline, though others like Amoxicillin and Erythromycin may also be used. Administration of medication typically lasts for four weeks, but improvements in your canine’s symptoms and discomfort should show within just one to two days. If your dog does not show improvement and symptoms persist, they should be brought back to your veterinarian for further evaluation.
How Can I Prevent It?
Since the disease is transmitted through ticks, the best way to prevent your dog from contracting Lyme is by being proactive with parasite control. This can help prevent them from being infected with other tick transmitted diseases, as well.
Start off by checking both yourself and your pooch for ticks daily. It’s especially important to do this each time you return from the outdoors, especially if they walked through a grassy or wooded area. Ask your veterinarian to do the same at each vet visit, as they’ll be able to catch any that you might have missed. Also inquire to make sure that your companion is updated on vaccines, as this can prevent them from getting Lyme. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend flea and tick preventatives. This can be anything from collars, combs, brushes, wipes, sprays, ointments, topicals, etc, which may not only kill off fleas and ticks, but provide your pet with constant protection against them.
For future reference, if you were to find a tick on your dog, the best course of action would be to throw on a pair of gloves and remove the tick as quickly as possible. Removal of the parasite can limit the chances of your pet becoming infected with Lyme, though taking preventative measures can help keep it from occurring at all.