Every new season brings its share of challenges for pet parents, and spring is no exception. After staying inside for much of the winter, you are probably anxious to get outside and enjoy nature. Bringing your dog along on a hike is the most natural thing in the world, and we encourage it. You just need to be diligent about protecting your dog from tick bites and Lyme disease this time of year.
Lyme Disease is on the Rise
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that cases of Lyme disease in humans and animals tripled between 1995 and 2016 with cases jumping from 12,000 to 36,000 annually. However, the CDC stated more recently that it believes the actual number of annual infections is closer to 300,000. Lyme disease often goes unreported, and it is easy to misdiagnose since its symptoms mimic several other diseases.
How Do Pets Acquire Lyme Disease?
Lyme borreliosis, the full medical term for Lyme disease, is a bacterial infection transmitted through tick bites. Ticks carry a bacterium called borrelia burgdorferi that release into the bloodstream of animals after a tick bite. The bacteria travels through the bloodstream quickly and causes a wide range of debilitating symptoms.
Ticks are especially prevalent in areas with tall grasses, woods, marshes, and thick bushes. They can easily latch onto dogs that walk by. Unfortunately, it takes just 24 to 48 hours for the first symptoms of Lyme disease to appear.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Pets
Dogs are the most common carriers of Lyme disease among household pets, but it can also affect cats. This is especially true of outdoor cats or cats who share their home with dogs. Pets can even get Lyme disease when ticks attach to the clothing or shoes of their human family members and crawl off to attach to the pet. Here are the symptoms to look for if you suspect your pet could have Lyme disease:
- Joint swelling
- Lack of energy
- Obvious signs of pain
Untreated Lyme disease in pets can cause kidney failure, seizures and other neurological events, and heart issues.
How to Prevent Your Pet from Getting Lyme Disease
The simplest thing you can do is check your pet, yourself, and your children for ticks each day. If you find one, carefully remove it with a pair of fine tweezers or ask your veterinarian to do it. Be sure to keep your grass mowed to a height of no more than two inches and routinely trim all bushes. All pets that go outside should wear a flea and tick collar. You can also ask your veterinarian if a vaccine would be appropriate for your dog or cat.
Schedule an Appointment with Battletown Animal Clinic at the First Sign of Lyme Disease
A prompt diagnosis is essential in your pet’s battle with Lyme disease. While the usual treatment is a course of antibiotics, your pet may need other therapies such as intravenous fluid. Please contact Battletown Animal Clinic today at 540-955-2171 to request an appointment.
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