Protect Your Pet from Lyme Disease
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, so take this opportunity to educate yourself on the dangers of Lyme disease. While Lyme disease may be more common in certain areas, it has been reported in every state in the US. Lyme disease can cause recurring health problems, and it can contribute to lifelong health challenges for your pet. Make sure you are doing everything possible to protect your pet from the effects of Lyme disease. Check out some tips provided by our Chandler vet to help keep your pet healthy and safe from parasites and infections.
How Lyme Disease is Spread
Lyme disease is spread through a bite from a blacklegged tick that is infected with Borrelia burgdorferi. This type of tick is specifically found in the following areas:
- Northeast and mid-Atlantic, from Virginia to Maine
- North central states, mostly Wisconsin and Minnesota
- West Coast, particularly in northern California
These types of ticks are found most often in wooded and grassy areas. Staying away from these areas can help keep your pet safe from harm, but there are other ways to prevent Lyme disease in your pet. Vaccinations are available to help build your pet’s immunity, and some flea & tick treatments can protect them from infections. There are various species-specific tick treatments, and they may also vary in how they are administered. Our team can help you identify which option would be right for your pet.
How You Can Protect Your Pet from Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is preventable through flea & tick treatment or through vaccinations. Not only do flea & tick treatments help prevent Lyme disease, but they also help protect your pet from various other infections and parasites. Our Chandler vet can recommend the right tick treatment for your pet based on their unique health needs and environmental factors. Vaccinations are typically administered after your pet is 9 weeks old. Tests indicate that Lyme disease vaccines are close to 100% effective, but it is still recommended that you use flea & tick treatments to prevent Lyme and other diseases.
Of course, your pet should enjoy the outdoors, just make sure you are being safe while doing so. We recommend that you check your pet for ticks every time you bring them in from outdoor activities. Staying on top of regular grooming can also help because it will make ticks easier to spot in their fur. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it before it is able to attach. Pull it off with tweezers and place it in a tissue, just be careful not to touch it. Lyme disease can spread if you have a cut or open wound on your hand, so avoid those areas if possible. If you are unable to remove the tick, bring your pet into our office right away so our team can help.
If your pet has been bitten, we may recommend treatment or we may have you bring them back in for testing. It is recommended that an animal is not tested earlier than 4 weeks after being bitten by a tick. If your pet has been infected for longer than 6 weeks, it is possible that a Lyme disease test may yield a false negative. This is because their body may no longer have the antibodies necessary to be detected by the test. A QC6 test can provide more accurate results if you suspect your pet has been infected for a long period of time.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
There are some clear signs that you may notice if your pet has been affected by Lyme disease. Clear symptoms include:
- swollen joints
- joint inflammation
- lack of appetite
- decreased appetite
If you notice that your pet is exhibiting any of the symptoms of Lyme disease, take a visit to our Chandler vet right away. Fast action can make a huge difference when it comes to your pet’s health. Lyme disease is typically treatable using antibiotics, but additional treatment may be necessary depending on your pet’s unique health needs. Lameness may also be recurring, and joint pain can persist indefinitely. Talk to our Chandler vet to find out how you can help ease your pet’s discomfort after being diagnosed and treated for Lyme disease.
Horses with Lyme disease may also experience additional symptoms, including:
- persistent lameness
- joint pain
- neurologic disease
- eye problems
To properly diagnose an animal with Lyme disease, a blood test will need to be administered. Talk to our Chandler vet about confirming your pet’s Lyme disease diagnosis. Follow up care will be determined after your pet’s condition has been properly evaluated.
What to Do If Your Pet Tests Positive
Lyme disease cannot be spread between animals, and you can’t catch it from your pet. However, if one of your pets has tested positive for Lyme disease, our Chandler vet will recommend that your other pets be tested as well. It is very possible that your other pets were exposed to ticks at the same time, and they may have also contracted the disease. It may also be a good idea to get tested yourself, especially if you exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- red “bullseye” rash that resembles a target
- muscle or joint pain
- heart or neurologic problems
If you experience any of the listed symptoms, or if your pet tests positive for Lyme disease, call your doctor or physician to get tested.
Treatment for Lyme disease in pets is typically just a course of antibiotics, but further treatments or medications may be recommended by our Chandler vet. It is possible for Lyme disease to resist treatment, though it is not common. Regular vet visits will help manage your pet’s health throughout their lifetime. Lyme disease can have an impact on their physical wellness for years, and it may contribute to future health problems. Ask our Chandler vet if you have any questions about your pet’s specific health history and learn more about how you can help protect them from Lyme disease.