Lyme disease is one of the most commonly transmitted tick-borne diseases in the world. Here, our Los Angeles vets explain what Lyme disease is, its symptoms and your treatment options if your pet is infected.
What is Lyme disease?
The bacteria borrella is carried by Western black-legged ticks and causes infectious Lyme disease, which is transmitted when ticks feed on infected animals such as deer, birds and mice. This infection is then passed to other animals when the infected tick bites them.
What symptoms of Lyme disease should I watch out for?
In our furry friends, the most common symptoms of Lyme disease range from malaise and general discomfort to depression, a loss of appetite and even lameness caused by inflammation in the 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 an appointment where our veterinary team is checking your pet for Lyme disease, we will ask you a number of questions to gain a detailed understanding of your pet's medical history and recent activity. We will then complete an array of tests to help detect Lyme disease, including bookwork, urinalysis and x-rays. We may also draw some fluid from the affected joints to check 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 veterinarians may recommend that you give your pet vaccines and boosters against Lyme disease if you live in an area where it is quite common. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it as quickly as possible to help prevent Lyme and other tick-born diseases from spreading. Although your pets aren't able to directly infect you, if they come into your home with an infected tick, the parasite may attach to other people or animals, further spreading the disease.