Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete ( a bacterium) and is transmitted through bit of a tick. Once in the bloodstream, the lyme organism travels to many parts of the body and is particular about settling in the joints and kidneys. The most common tick to carry lyme disease is the black-legged tick or “deer tick”. Lyme disease can only be transmitted from the host (tick); meaning if your dog contracts lyme disease, he can not transfer the disease to you.
Some dogs portray generalized pain in their joints or muscles, they may go off feed and become lethargic. Many patients have high fevers and favor or limp on any of their legs. Symptoms may disappear for weeks at a time only to recur weeks or months later. Some patients infected may be asymptomatic for months or over a year. By this time, the organism may be widespread throughout the body.
We recommend testing dogs yearly with a 4DX or heartworm/tickborne illness blood test. The test involves a simple blood draw and running the sample through a snap test to detect antibodies created from the organism. It also tests for 2 other tick illnesses we see in our area- anaplasmosis and ehrilichia. Since lyme spirochete is a bacterium, it can easily be treated with antibiotics, typically with doxycycline.
The key to prevention is keeping your dog from being exposed to ticks. Ticks are found in grassy, wooded, and sandy areas. They find their way onto an animal by climbing to the top of a leaf, blade of grass, or short trees. They wait until their sensors detect an approaching animal on which to crawl or drop. Keeping animals from thick underbrush reduces their exposure to ticks. Dogs should be kept on trails when walked near wooded or tall grass areas. Vaccination against Lyme disease is recommended for pets that live in endemic areas or that travel to areas where Lyme disease is prevalent. There are several products available that can help to kill these ticks and prevent disease transmission. Our products effective monthly preventatives. This includes Frontline Gold® and and Nexgard®.
How to remove a tick?
If you find a tick attached to your pet, grasp the tick with fine tweezers or your finger nails near the dog’s skin and firmly pull it straight out. There are also tools available called Tick Twister® or Tick Key® which can be useful. However, take care to use them cautiously as twisting or jerking the tick may cause the mouth parts to break off and remain in the skin. See your veterinarian if you are unsure or unable to remove the tick from your dog. Ticks have a hard outer surface so place it in rubbing alcohol for disposal. Make sure to check your pet daily for any attached ticks.
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