Although typical “tick season” is considered to be from April through October, endemic regions such as the Northeast, are at high risk year round. Are you prepared?
Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by the bite of an infected tick. This disease can be very dangerous for both pets and people, especially dogs.
Lyme disease occurs predominantly on the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts, as well as in the Midwest. About 75% of dogs living in these areas (referred to as endemic regions) are exposed to infected ticks. New York dogs are at a higher risk of contracting Lyme disease.
Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria known as Borrelia Burgdorferi, also known as Spirochete. The bacterium is carried by Ixodes ticks, who then transmit the infection to animals through a bite. The bacteria replicates in animals causing them to become very sick.
Lyme disease cannot be transmitted through water, food or air.
Both humans and animals are at risk for contracting Lyme disease from ticks. If your pet is infected, he cannot infect you but he can carry infected ticks into your home, who can infect you.
Since Lyme disease was first identified in the early 1980’s, the frequency of disease occurrence has increased twenty-five fold. Today, it is the most common vector-borne disease occurring in people and dogs in the US. Dogs are most frequently infected with Lyme disease bacteria, but infections can also occur in cats, cattle and horses.
The most common sign of Lyme disease in dogs is arthritis, characterized by sudden lameness, pain and sometimes swelling on one or more joints. Their steps shift slowly and painfully from one leg to another, seeming lethargic. Other early symptoms may include fever, swelling in the lips and ears, lack of appetite, dehydration, bloody noses, a stiff gait, difficulty breathing, inactivity and swollen lymph nodes. In worst case scenarios, the kidneys can be adversely affected and the kidney damage can be permanent.
Lyme disease is easily treated with antibiotics, eliminating the infection-especially when treated early. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with the Bregman Vet Group if your pet is displaying any of the above symptoms. Left untreated, the disease becomes chronic leading to more serious symptoms, even death.
Quick removal of ticks from your pets’ skin reduces the chance of infection. Researchers have found that infected ticks must feed for about 24 hours to transmit the bacteria to an animal. The quicker the tick is removed, the less likely your pet is to be infected with the disease.
Ticks may appear as small, dark specs, or as small growths when engorged on your pets’ skin. Check your pet regularly for ticks with a fine-tooth comb. If you find one, don’t crush it upon removal! It may contain infectious fluids. Instead, using a tweezer, gently grab the tick as close to your pets’ skin as possible and pull away from the skin.
Never use your bare hands to remove ticks! Dispose of the tick in a container of alcohol or flush it down the toilet immediately.
To minimize your pets’ risk of being infected by a tick, avoid tick infested areas. In the colder months, be weary around mulch, wood piles, trees, plants and heavily wooded areas. When returning from wooded areas with tall grasses, do a thorough search on both yourself and your pet.
For further prevention, invest in a special collar or topical products including Frontline and Advantixx, that will kill and/or repel ticks at all stages of development.
Vaccination is an excellent preventative. Please feel free to discuss the appropriateness of vaccinating your pet for Lyme disease with one of our Doctors at The Bregman Vet Group.
Your pet can also be quickly and easily tested for tick-borne diseases with an in-house diagnostic test. The available test checks for Heartworm disease and three tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease. Results are available in as little as 10-15 minutes.
The Bregman Vet Group is here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about Lyme disease and your pet. If you suspect your pet is suffering from the disease, schedule an appointment immediately.