Heartworms & Other Parasites
Five Signs of Lyme Disease
Ticks are small bugs that can cause big problems for people and pets. Ticks from deer can carry Lyme disease. A bite from an infected tick transmits illness-causing bacteria to the victim's bloodstream, causing health problems.
Lyme disease has been found in every state in the U.S., and dogs, with their love of the outdoors, are a prime target. The good news is that for the bacteria to get into the host's bloodstream, the tick must be attached to the host for 24- 48 hours1.
Check your pet for ticks daily as the first line of defense in avoiding this canine disease. Initially as small as a pencil point, ticks are difficult to detect, particularly on animals with dark fur. If you see or feel a tick on your pet, remove it immediately by following these steps.
Be on the Lookout for These 5 Symptoms
Several different symptoms can indicate the presence of Lyme disease. These are the most common ones. As a vigilant pet parent, you can detect the first few signs yourself:
- Loss of appetite. Is your dog leaving food in the bowl or not eating at all? That's a red flag.
- Change in mood. Does your normally peppy pooch seem down in the dumps? Lethargy, depression and reduced energy are warning signs.
- Difficulty walking. Lyme can cause swelling of the joints, which could lead to stiffness, a change in gait, lameness, discomfort or pain.
- Fever. Normally a dog's temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5° Fahrenheit. When it rises to between 103 and 105°, that's cause for alarm.
- Swollen lymph nodes. Enlarged glands near the neck or legs can indicate disease.
If you notice your dog exhibiting any of these signs, call your veterinarian. He or she can check for the disease via a physical exam, blood tests and other diagnostics. A severe case can lead to heart or kidney disease.
The Good News
Prompt treatment, usually a round of antibiotics for two to four weeks, is likely to make your dog feel better within 48 hours. More serious cases, where the infection persists or is chronic, require continuing medication, pain relief or treatments to address a specific symptom.
Do Cats Get Lyme Disease?
Some people think that cats do not get Lyme Disease, however they are just as susceptible for tick infestations as dogs. According to William Miller Jr., VMD, a professor of dermatology at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine "especially during the warmer months of the year, an owner should routinely brush a cat's coat and search for signs of tick infestation."2
Protect Your Pets
The best way to protect your dog or cat from Lyme disease is to keep him or her from getting it in the first place. Keep them clear of tall grasses and areas of tick infestation. And guard them against tick-borne diseases with Bravecto® for dogs and cats, Activyl Tick Plus® for dogs, or Scalibor® Protector Band for dogs.
There is also a Lyme disease vaccine. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the optimal tick prevention for your dog.
If My Dog or Cat Gets Lyme Disease, Will I Catch It?
No. Lyme disease is not contagious, although it's important to rid your home of ticks.
1. Mervine, Phyllis. "Hard Sciene on Lyme: Ticks can transmit infection the first day." LymeDisease.org.
2. "Ticks and Your Cat." Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. www.vet.cornell.edu.