Lyme disease is one of the commonly transmitted tick-borne diseases in our state, Here, our Provincetown vets share information about Lyme disease in pets, including what it actually is, the symptoms you should look out for and your treatment options if your pet becomes infected.
What is Lyme disease?
Deer ticks carry the bacteria borrella which causes the infectious Lyme disease. This bacteria is transmitted to a tick by an infected animal when they serve as host. This infection is then passed on to people and pets when they become hosts for an infected tick.
What symptoms of Lyme disease should I watch out for?
In our four-legged friends, common symptoms of Lyme disease may include anything from general discomfort or malaise to depression, lack of appetite and lameness due to inflamed joints.
Keep an eye out for more serious symptoms like difficulty breathing, sensitivity to touch and a fever as well.
How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?
If you think your pet may have Lyme disease, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
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 urine analysis, 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 diagnosed with Lyme disease, pets are usually treated on an outpatient basis. This will typically involve at least a four-week course of antibiotics, though your vet may also prescribe pain medication if the disease has made your dog especially uncomfortable.
How can I prevent Lyme disease?
Your first and best step towards controlling and preventing this disease in your pet and in your area is by avoiding ticks with your pet as much as possible. There are vaccines, sprays and monthly products available as well, although these generally work best before your pet is exposed to 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 spreading. Though our pets will not directly infect people, they may bring infected ticks into the house, which may then attach to another person or animal and transmit Lyme disease.