Here are a few quick facts pet owners should know about Lyme Disease:
- Lyme disease is a bacterial infection commonly seen in both dogs and people.
- Dogs living in the Midwest have significant risk of developing Lyme disease.
- An infected tick is more likely to bite your dog if your dog spends time in the woods or in fields.
- Borrelia burgdorferi is a bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This bacteria found in mice and small mammals.
- Deer ticks or black-legged ticks pick up the bacteria when feeding on an infected animal.
- Common “wood ticks” and “dog ticks” do not carry the infection.
- An infected tick has to feed on a dog for at least 48 hours in order to infect the dog with the bacteria.
- Dogs do NOT develop the rash typically seen in people who have Lyme disease.
- Dogs do not show symptoms for weeks to months after being infected.
- Owners may notice that their dog is lethargic, not interested in food and appears stiff or sore. In rare cases, dogs can develop life-threatening kidney damage resulting in anorexia, vomiting, dehydration and lethargy. If your pet develops kidney damage, hospital treatment will be required.
- On examination, your veterinarian will likely find that your dog has a fever, lameness, and possible joint swelling.
- Once infected, dogs can have bacteria remain inactive in their body for many years.
- There are several products available to prevent ticks from biting your dog. Discuss with your veterinarian which product is best for your pet’s lifestyle.
- If your dog is at high risk of exposure, your veterinarian can give your dog a Lyme disease vaccination.
- Cats appear to have a higher natural immunity to Lyme disease and do not develop clinical disease.
Contact your veterinarian if a deer tick or black-legged tick bit your dog. Your veterinarian can use an in-house 4Dx antibody test or a C6 antibody test to discover if your pet has been exposed to the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Treatment for Lyme disease usually involves 30 days of an antibiotic called doxycycline, and symptoms of the illness usually resolve within 24-48 hours of starting the antibiotic.