Ticks love our dogs. As a concerned dog dad or mom, you don’t want these tiny arachnids making a meal of your pet, as these disgusting, creepy, and dangerous bugs can carry diseases. One of the most common tick-borne illnesses that affect dogs is Lyme disease. While you’re probably familiar with this painful condition, there are some details you may not have heard. What do you need to know about Lyme disease?
1. Ticks Aren’t Just Found in the Woods
While many people rightfully assume that ticks live in heavily wooded areas, ticks tend to go where their hosts take them and where they’ll find new victims. Since ticks can’t fly or jump, they will wait on leaves or grass for a potential host to brush past them and then attach themselves to skin, fur, or clothing.
Where are some areas people report finding ticks?
- Trails and nearby sidewalks
- Bushes and shrubs
- Tall grass
- In and around trees
- Backyard play structures
- Around standing water and streams
2. Bacteria Cause Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is the result of bacteria spread by a tick feeding on its host. While there are two forms of bacteria that cause Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi is the one found in Virginia. These bacteria look like microscopic spiraled worms.
The other form of bacteria that spreads Lyme disease has yet to be discovered in our area. We hope that it stays this way!
3. Not All Regions of the U.S. Are Equally Affected
Cases of Lyme disease can be found all over the U.S. but are highly concentrated on the East Coast, and in 2018 our Commonwealth had the second-most reported cases in the South Atlantic region. If you’re planning your spring break or summer vacation, other eastern coastal states, the Midwest and northern California are also areas with elevated rates of Lyme disease.
4. Dogs Often Hide the Symptoms of Lyme Disease
It’s frightening to think that your dog can be silently suffering and harboring a disease that can cause long-term pain and discomfort. Unfortunately, this is often the case, as many dogs don’t show any symptoms of Lyme disease for months. Some even go more than a year without showing any signs.
What are some symptoms of Lyme disease?
- Sore and swollen joints
- Lack of appetite
- Limping and lameness
- Reluctance to play
5. Lyme Disease Affects the Whole Body
When the bacteria that cause Lyme disease are transmitted by a tick bite they circulate through the bloodstream. While joint stiffness and pain is often an early sign of infection, the ability for the bacteria to move throughout the body means that the heart, kidney, and other internal organs can also be affected, causing significant and long-term damage, even after treatment.
6. People Can Get Lyme Disease Too
While you cannot catch Lyme disease directly from your dog, you can be infected by a tick with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. If a tick were to feed on an infected animal and then bite you or a family member, you are at risk of contracting Lyme disease.
7. Lyme Disease is Easy to Prevent
We can treat Lyme disease but treatment is most effective when paired with early detection. Because of the nature of the condition, this is rarely the case. Instead, Lyme disease often gets ample opportunity to permanently damage your dog’s health.
How do we diagnosis Lyme disease? We use blood tests to detect the antibodies the dog’s body produces to combat the bacteria associated with Lyme disease. Because it is bacteria-based, we often prescribe antibiotics for treatment.
We always recommend prevention as a first step. When you can prevent your dog from contracting Lyme disease, you save your dog the agony of joint paint and save yourself the worry and cost of treatment.
Prevention can be as simple as applying a topical ointment, adding a new collar, or giving your dog a tasty chew. These solutions kill ticks before they are able to transfer Borrelia burgdorferi to your dog’s body, as it can take up to 24-36 hours for a feeding tick to infect its host.
Don’t Risk Your Pet’s Health
Ready to protect your pup? Make an appointment today and we’ll work together to find the right preventative medicine for your dog. When you don’t give Lyme disease a chance to harm your pet, you’re protecting them, your wallet, and your family. We’re ready to help keep your dog free of Lyme disease so give us a call today.
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