Did you know that 5.6% of all positive cases of Lyme disease diagnosed across the U.S. are diagnosed in dogs living in New Jersey? In Monmouth County, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) reports 1 out of 11 dogs tested was confirmed positive for Lyme during the first three months of 2016. Left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to chronic infections, severe arthritis, and in some cases, even kidney failure, and some symptoms can take weeks or even months to manifest. Here at Bayshore Veterinary Hospital, we advocate the prevention of Lyme disease in dogs and cats, which is why we offer preventives as well as the Lyme vaccine to protect your pet.
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is an inflammatory tick-borne disease that can affect animals and people, which means if a pet were to carry a tick into your home, everyone could be at risk. Although both dogs and cats are susceptible to this disease, it affects mostly dogs. Lyme is diagnosed by a blood test that identifies antibodies formed in response to the infection. The test is sensitive enough to distinguish between a dog that has been bitten but has successfully fought off the infection and is just carrying the antibodies, and a dog that has active Lyme. If you know your dog has been bitten by a tick, or you suspect Lyme because of certain symptoms (see next section), it’s important to schedule a diagnostic test so treatment can be administered, if necessary. Treatment consists of antibiotics administered for 14 to 30 days with a follow up to confirm recovery.
What Are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?
- History of a tick bite
- Fever of 103-105
- Swelling of joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Loss of appetite
How to Prevent Lyme Disease
Since Lyme is caused by ticks, one obvious way to prevent it is by keeping ticks from biting your dog. Ticks thrive in wooded and grassy areas, such as forests and fields. With that in mind, always stay in the center of the trails during your walks through the woods, away from trees and bushes. Also remember to thoroughly check your dog for ticks if they’ve been exposed to grassy or wooded areas. In most cases, a tick must be attached for at least 24 hours before it can transmit the Lyme bacteria, so finding and removing a tick before that time is critical. If you find an engorged tick and don’t know the proper way to remove it, visit Bayshore Veterinary Hospital, and we’ll demonstrate the proper removal. In some cases, the bite area can become inflamed, which is a common reaction.
Another way to protect your pet from Lyme is with the preventives (oral and topical) and the vaccination, which are available at our hospital. There are even “insecticide-impregnated” collars that are designed to kill ticks. We’ll determine which preventive option is best for your pet during your next visit. Since the prime season for ticks is May through November, we strongly recommend that you have a preventive plan set in place during these months. Give us a call at (732) 671-3110 to make an appointment or to learn more about ticks and Lyme disease.