Lyme Disease and How to Avoid It
Ticks are more than just a nuisance – these nasty little critters present serious health concerns to people and pets, with Lyme Disease being at the top of that list. While it’s one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases, it only causes symptoms in about 10% of dogs.
However, those symptoms can be very severe.
What is Lyme Disease in Dogs?
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection spread through the bite of an infected tick including the lone star tick (Amblyomma americanum) and the blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis).
Symptoms of Lyme Disease
The symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include fever, reduced energy, fever (either low-grade or high grade), general stiffness, inflammation of joints, and more.
If left untreated, symptoms can progress to kidney failure, cardiac problems, neurological effects and more.
While it’s not as common in cats, it can still present problems. Sadly, most cats exhibit no symptoms of the condition.
Those that do may present with acute lameness in one leg, then the other (known as “shifting-leg lameness”). Some cats may walk with a stiff back and/or experience swollen lymph nodes near the site of the bite.
Other cats may not have any symptoms, but if left untreated, it can result in kidney failure.
In humans, Lyme disease can cause joint swelling, inflammation, fever, kidney failure, heart or nervous system complications, and even death.
Symptoms can also include serious flu-like reactions (headache, chills, fever, fainting, muscle pain, paralysis). Within a few weeks, this can migrate into heart palpitations, joint swelling, speech problems and brain inflammation. The worst part is that these symptoms may not appear until months or even years after initial exposure.
Risk of Lyme Disease in Your Area
What began as primarily a concern for hot, humid areas, we’re seeing the frequency of Lyme Disease shifting north and west.
Lyme Disease is and getting the disease means years of treatment.
Lyme Disease isn’t reserved for pets who frequent wooded areas,” comments Jeanette Holliday, the US Marketing Manager at The Company of Animals. “Any dog or cat spending time outdoors, even in the city, needs to be protected against ticks.”
How is Lyme Disease Treated in Pets?
Treatment is very extensive and does not ever really destroy the bacteria. Your dogs and cats will require a chemical blood profile, including complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis and full history.
The more information you can provide about your pets lifestyle, the better a veterinarian can determine the possibility of Lyme Disease. Much of the treatment discussed will include symptom management.
Preventing Lyme Disease in Pets
If you live in an area that has a high prevalence of ticks, it’s important to keep your pets on a year-round tick prevention program. When using these prevention methods, be very aware of potential side effects, which may include loss of fur, itching, burns in collar area, and unusual behavior.
Some popular and relatively safe flea/tick treatments include:
- Revolution: Available by prescription only. Ask your veterinarian for this topical solution.
- Seresto Flea and Tick Collar: One of these collars offers 8 months of protection. Available for dogs and cats.
- Cheristin for Cats: This once-a-month topical solution helps prevent flea infestations.
- K9 Advantix II: Veterinarian-recommended flea and tick prevention for dogs and mosquito repellent for dogs.
- Frontline Plus for Dogs: Frontline flea and tick treatment for dogs kills fleas, flea eggs, lice, and ticks. This flea and tick treatment kills ticks, including those that may transmit Lyme disease.
Natural Ways to Repel Fleas and Ticks
Natural solutions for flea and tick prevention are widely available and quite effective for dogs and cats (if you’re not in an area of high prevalence). Most of these solutions focus on the use of essential oils.
There are also many natural plants you can grow yourself that will help.
Remember, if you live in the Southeast or midwest, it’s important to have your pet on a year-round solution.
- Wondercide Flea, Tick & Mosquito Spray: This is our personal favorite for our home in the deserts of Arizona. Made in the USA with human food-grade ingredients. 100% biodegradable and non-toxic pest control kills and repels mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, chiggers, roaches, crickets, and many more, yet it’s SAFE around kids, pets and beneficial insects, like bees and butterflies. Also check out their yard spray.
- Vets Best Flea and Tick Yard/Kennel Spray:
Prevention is the only way to successfully prevent Lyme Disease and as our planet grows warmer, it will become increasingly difficult to ward off this disease.