Let’s Talk Lyme Disease and Your Dogs and Cats
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme is a common but preventable disease diagnosed in animals and humans. Lyme passes from ticks that feed on deer but replicates more those that feed on the white-footed mice population. Areas prevalent for Lyme disease are divided by risk rate throughout the United States and are designated as low, moderate, and high. The “Northeast and upper Midwest regions in the United States” according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), in Merck, (2017) are among the most identifiable for Lyme disease
I n the USA, Lyme disease is usually spread through what is known as the “Deer-Tick.” These ticks are generally no larger than the size of a pinhead. The medical term for Lyme disease is “Borrelia” bacteria.
How Can I Tell if my Pets are at Risk for Lyme Disease?
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) and the CDC partnered to research all areas concerning Lyme Disease. And from their research, a Yes or No assessment list was developed, written, and made public in the form of online data, pamphlets, and through various pet and animal associations, stores, and of course, veterinarian offices. The list of questions on the checklist related living location and if pets traveled to the following states: “MA, RI, CT, NH, ME, VT, PA, NY, NJ, DC, WI, VA, MN, MD. DE, WV, ND, IN, IL, IA, ID, NC, WY, MT, OR, MI, CA, KY, SC, CO, WA, SD, FL, OH, NM, UT (Merck, 2017).” The other main questions relate to your pet being outside if you take them hunting or other outdoor activities…fishing, camping, hiking, etc., if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors, and if anyone in your area has been diagnoses with Lyme disease, the Companion Animal Parasite Council (2016) within Merck (2017).
Zoetis (2016) also put out public information from the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) on the risks of Lyme disease. Zoetis’s risk information included if you or a family have found a tick on themselves, living nearby a wildlife area, or if your yard has a lot of tall brush, and if you spend a lot of time in tall brush and grasses.
Let’s Talk Prevention
Lyme disease prevention measures recommended by the CAPC incorporates that you and your veterinarian take on a full spectrum assessment, including the pet’s risk for contracting Lyme by geographic area. The veterinarian may suggest monthly/ quarterly preventative flea and tick topicals in addition to vaccinations against Lyme disease based on data obtained.
The vaccine discussed by the CAPC is called “Vanguard crLyme.” Vanguard is also a well-known brand name for topical fleas and ticks preventative medication (Zoetis, 2016). CAPC publicized that to protect from Lyme disease; one must (1) Stop the tick- with the use of recommended and effective products that stop ticks. Checking your pets for ticks frequently and after being outdoors (2) is to stop the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, which is where the vaccine comes in. The key is to vaccinate before a tick bites your pet.
What about the Symptoms of Lyme Disease: What are they?
Some pets may not show visible signs of Lyme disease, or they may take a while, leaving too much time for the disease to progress. Noticeable symptoms include joint pain-decreased activity, limping; lameness; fever; loss of appetite, and energy (Merck, 2017). Puppies are more likely to show symptoms of Lyme disease than adult dogs.
How Serious is and How to Treat Lyme Disease in Pets
Merck’s literature indicates that Lyme disease can lead to disease in the heart, nervous, and kidney systems, which can be lethal if untreated (2017). Therefore, your veterinarian may decide to test your pet if there are any reasons to suspect Lyme disease. Diagnose of Lyme disease is usually based on the presented symptoms and by a blood test. Blood tests can be performed at any time but are most reliable in the later stages of the disease [(CAPC, 2016) in Merck, (2017)].
Your veterinarian is the number one resource for information and recommendations on Lyme disease and prevention. For additional information, please see the sites below:
Merck Animal Health (2017). Lyme Disease: Does my dog need to be vaccinated? www.merck-animal-health-usa.com
Zoetis, (2016). Should You Worry about Lyme Disease? Vanguard crLyme