Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. Today, our Santa Clarita vets share information about Lyme disease in pets: what it is, symptoms to watch for, and treatment options.
What is Lyme disease?
The bacteria borrella is carried by the Western blacklegged tick in California and causes 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 signs of Lyme disease should I watch out for?
In our canine companions, 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 watch for signs of fever, difficulty breathing or sensitivity to touch.
How can my veterinarian diagnose Lyme disease?
Book 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 is diagnosed with Lyme disease?
Pets diagnosed with Lyme disease, are usually treated on an outpatient basis. This will generally involve at least a four-week course of antibiotics, though your vet may also prescribe pain medication if the disease has made your dog's joints especially uncomfortable.
How can Lyme disease be prevented?
Avoiding ticks as much as possible will go a long way to controlling and preventing all tick borne diseases including Lyme. Sprays, monthly parasite prevention medications and vaccines are available, although many work best before dogs are exposed to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
In some cases your vet may recommend appropriate boosters and vaccines if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common. You should remove any ticks you find on your dog as quickly as possible to help prevent Lyme and other diseases from spreading. Though dogs will not directly infect people, our pets may bring infected ticks into the house, which could then attach to another person or animal and transmit Lyme disease.