Your Burke Vet Advises Pet Owners about Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme disease is an infectious, tick-borne disease first recognized in dogs in 1985. It is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacteria called a spirochete. This bacterium lives in the eastern black-legged tick, previously referred to as the deer tick, and the Western black-legged tick, and can be transmitted when an infected tick feeds on a dog, person, or another mammal. Lyme disease has been found in every state in the U.S. and some provinces in Canada.
These ticks are the only tick species that transmit Lyme disease to pets and humans. Ticks must remain attached to animals or people for at least 48 hours before the bacteria actually enters the bloodstream. Removing the ticks within this time frame usually prevents transmission from happening. Black-legged ticks are extremely small and brown in color when not engorged.
We tend to think of ticks being found in tall, grassy areas and woods, but they can hop on board your pet from just about anywhere, for instance, low tree branches, shrubs, gardens, and lawns.
Symptoms and Treatment
The good news is Lyme disease in dogs is treatable, but early detection is key. Antibiotic therapy using Doxycycline is the most common treatment. Dogs tend to improve in a few days. The doctor will likely prescribe follow up testing to confirm the treatment is working.
Symptoms of Lyme disease show up about three to four months after infection and include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen joints
- Lack of appetite
Lyme disease untreated can lead to heart problems, kidney disease, and neurological disorders. Ticks carry other diseases as well such as anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis. Symptoms for these disease range from lethargy, loss of appetite to lameness and joint pain.
Be sure and call your Burke Animal Clinic vet if you see symptoms. Our veterinarians will work to find out what’s going on and discuss the best treatment plan for your pet. An in-house blood test will get us an answer quickly so treatment can begin, or it may help us determine if something else is going on.
Prevention of Lyme Disease
Keeping ticks off your pet or killing them before the disease is transmitted is the best prevention against tick-borne diseases. Owners have the option of topical ointments, chews or collars. Some are applied monthly, some last for longer. And, they also protect against fleas, which are pesky in their own way and carry their own diseases.
And, keep in mind, preventives must be applied or given regularly, according to the instructions from the manufacturer. If a product is supposed to be given every 30 days, it stops working on day 31! And, don’t be surprised if you see a tick. For some preventives to work, the tick has to bite. We’ll help you find the right product for your pet.
Annual screenings are another important tool in the effort to protect your pet from tick-borne diseases. The annual test we do for heartworm also tests for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases. Owners may also consider the Lyme vaccine for added protection against Lyme disease. But, a flea and tick prevention product is still needed
Common Ticks Found in our Area
Call Burke Animal Clinic Today If You Are Concerned About Your Pet!
Keep your pet healthy and free of tick-borne diseases by scheduling an appointment today at Burke Animal Clinic: 703-569-9600.