Lyme disease, while somewhat rare in Arizona, is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. Here, our Tucson veterinarians share some information about Lyme disease including what it is, its symptoms and what treatment options you have for it in your pet.
What is Lyme disease?
The bacteria borrella is carried by Western black-legged ticks and causes infectious Lyme disease, which is transmitted when ticks feed on infected animals such as deer, birds and mice. This infection is then passed to other animals when the infected tick bites them.
What symptoms of Lyme disease should I watch out for?
In our pets, the common symptoms of Lyme disease can include anything from a general discomfort and malaise to depression, a lack of appetite or even lameness caused by inflammation in your pet's joints.
Also beware of any fever, difficulty breathing or sensitivity to touch.
How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?
Schedule an appointment with your vet if you suspect your pet may have Lyme disease.
During this appointment, your veterinarian will ask a number of questions about your pet to get a better understanding of their medical history, and then conduct a series of tests from urine analysis to x-rays, bloodwork and fecal exams. They may also draw fluid from your pet's joints in order to analyze it for signs of the disease.
What happens if my pet receives a Lyme disease diagnosis?
When your pet is diagnosed with Lyme disease, they will usually be treated on an outpatient basis. This will generally involve a month-long course of antibiotics and pain medication (if your pet is especially uncomfortable because of the disease).
How can I prevent Lyme disease?
Avoiding ticks as much as possible will go a long way to controlling and preventing disease. Sprays, monthly products and vaccines are available, although many work best before dogs are exposed to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.
Your vet may recommend appropriate boosters and vaccines if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common. You should promptly remove any ticks you find on your dog to help prevent Lyme and other diseases spreading. Though dogs will not directly infect people, our pets may bring infected ticks into the house, which may then attach to another person or animal and transmit Lyme disease.