Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the world. Here, our Los Angeles veterinary team shares some information about Lyme disease in your pets, including what it is, the symptoms you should watch out for, and your treatment options.
What is Lyme disease?
The bacteria borrella is carried by western blacklegged ticks and causes the infectious Lyme disease. This bacteria is transmitted to the ticks from infected animals like mice, birds and deer, who then pass it on to other animals when they bite and feed on them.
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.
Also beware of any fever, difficulty breathing or sensitivity to touch.
How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?
Schedule an appointment with your vet if you suspect your pet may have Lyme disease.
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?
Avoiding ticks as much as possible will go a long way to controlling and preventing disease. Sprays, monthly products and vaccines are available, although many work best before dogs are exposed to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Your vet might recommend appropriate vaccinations and boosters if you live in a region where Lyme disease is very common. You should remove ticks as quickly as possible once your discover them on your pet to help prevent the spread of Lyme or other tick-borne diseases. Although your pets won't be able to directly infect people in your household, they may bring infected ticks into the house. And those parasites may attach to another person or animal and continue to spread the disease.