Lyme disease in your pets is nearer than you think.
Lyme Disease is an infectious tick born disease. It is caused by a spiral shaped bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi and is spread by ticks that are infected with the bacteria. When the infected tick bites other animals it can transmit the bacteria to these animals. Lyme disease is transmitted by the black legged or deer tick. The deer tick is small and may bite both animals and humans without being noticed.
Official estimates suggest that Lyme disease is endemic here in the United Kingdom. The true number of cases per year is not known as cases appear to be under reported to vets.
Lyme disease can not only affect our animals but humans as well. It is however far easier to diagnose and treat in humans than in dogs. The signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease are different than those in humans. Although most dogs, up to 95% of those infected will never show any signs of Lyme disease infection, it can cause chronic joint disease.
Dogs can become infected anywhere ticks can be found. Especially in woods, areas of tall grass and areas of bushes. However, ticks can be carried into gardens by other animals. It can take between two and five months for symptoms to show after infection.
When symptoms do appear, they can include the following:
- Decreased appetite
- Swollen and painful joints. Your dog may be reluctant to move
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Your show signs of mild limping, then for it to worsen. It may move from one leg to another.
Some dogs with Lyme Disease may go on to develop kidney disease. Signs can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst and urination
Dogs who develop kidney disease can become very ill and may not respond to treatment. Dogs showing any of the above signs should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
Treatment of Lyme Disease is usually with antibiotics for between two and four weeks and an improvement is effective during the early days of treatment. Your veterinary will advise on the best course of antibiotics. If kidney disease is present a longer course of antibiotics along with other medication may be necessary.
It is therefore important for the prevention of Lyme Disease and many other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks. Checking your dog daily for ticks and removing them with a tick removal tool is the simplest method. Ticks must feed for at least twelve hours before transmitting the bacteria that causes Lyme Disease.
Here in the UK Frontline is probably the best know parasite treatment. Should you be concerned, your pet may have Lyme disease then consult your veterinary as soon as possible.