Lyme disease is a bacterial disease that can affect both humans and animals. The bacteria is transmitted through tick bites and of the variety of ticks that inhabit the northeast, the primary tick responsible for the spread of the disease is the deer tick. Deer ticks are found in grassy, wooded, marshy areas near rivers, lakes, or oceans. Humans and dogs might come into contact with ticks while hiking, camping, or just walking in their own backyard.
Lyme disease is common around New England states and Mid-Atlantic states. The map below shows areas where cases of Lyme Disease have been reported in the U.S.
Reported Cases of Lyme Disease — United States 2017
Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, lameness, joint pain and swelling, and decreased activity. Sometimes symptoms may not show for 2 to 5 months.
Lyme disease is diagnosed through a blood test that shows whether an animal has been exposed to Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. Once diagnosed, antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat this disease.
The best way to protect pets from Lyme disease is to take preventive measures, which can include:
- Using reliable tick-preventative products.
- Asking your veterinarian if a Lyme vaccination is right for your pet.
- Avoiding areas where ticks might be found. These areas include tall grasses, marshes, and wooded areas.
- Checking for ticks once indoors.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, ticks are most often found around your dog’s neck, in the ears, in the folds between the legs and the body, and between the toes. Cats may have ticks on their neck or face.
AVMA also says that prompt removal of ticks is very important because it can lessen the chance of disease transmission from the tick to your pet. To remove ticks:
- Use tweezers to firmly grip the tick as close as possible to your pet’s skin.
- Gently and steadily pull the tick free.
- Do not twist or crush the tick during removal as this could leave the tick’s mouth parts in your pet’s skin.
- Do not attempt to smother the tick with alcohol or petroleum jelly.
- Do not apply a hot match to it.
For more information regarding Lyme disease and your pet, schedule an appointment today.