Many people are familiar with Lyme Disease and how it affects humans, but did you know that lyme disease can affect your pets as well? Lyme disease is less common in cats (though it is possible for cats to have lyme disease) and often found in dogs. Fortunately, it can be easy to help protect your pet if you take the appropriate preventative measures and keep routine wellness appointments with your veterinarian.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that is contracted from ticks. Ticks can be found just about anywhere, but they especially prefer areas with tall grass, brush, and wooded areas. Lyme disease is contracted when a tick who has fed on another animal infected with lyme disease bites and feeds on a new animal. If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your pet, or if your pet likes to play outdoors, you should always check him or her for ticks, even if you don’t live in a wooded area. Though some areas of the country have less reported cases of Lyme disease, it occurs in every state and you should take precautions no matter where you live.
It is very important that you are aware of what is “normal” for your pet so that you can accurately identify any abnormal behaviors that might indicate that your pet is sick. If you suspect something is not right, it is best to seek treatment immediately to avoid serious cardiac and neurological complications, or in advanced cases, death. If your pet displays any of the following symptoms, you will want to schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible:
- Loss of appetite
- Stiffness, discomfort, or pain
- Swollen joints
Treatment and Prevention
Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics which will need to be taken for at least a month. More advanced cases may require additional therapies and treatments that will vary based on the age and health of your pet.
While the dangers of lyme disease are very real and can progress quickly, you don’t need to live in fear of it infecting your pet. If you take these appropriate measures, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to explore the great outdoors with your furry friend as much as you desire.
Give a flea and tick preventative. The most effective preventatives are those that are designed to be given orally on a monthly basis, but there are many alternatives on the market if your pet cannot take oral medication. Talk to your veterinarian about which preventative is best for your pet.
Consider vaccinating your pet. The lyme vaccine is a great option to further protect your pet. This is particularly important if you live in wooded areas or if your pet spends time outdoors. Talk to your veterinarian about whether this is a vaccine you should include as a part of your next visit.
Always check your pet for ticks. Again, it is most important to be aware of what is normal for your pet, and that includes checking him or her for ticks or any unusual signs of illness. If you suspect anything abnormal, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Here at Pleasant Plains Animal Hospital we are always looking for new ways to help educate our clients on how they can best care for their pets. If you have any questions about lyme disease or how you can better protect your pet, contact us today at (718) 227-8387.