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Lyme Disease in Dogs and Cats: What You Need to Know

the pet practice perth Mar 23, 2019
Ticks on the body of your dog or cat can be terrifying. Most pet owners think the worse has happened when they see ticks on the body of their pets. These ticks are not only irritating and bothersome to our pets, they can also transmit other diseases such as the Lyme disease.
Most of the pets that are afflicted with Lyme disease also suffer from other diseases or overall illness.

According to the available statistics, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to CDC by state health departments every year.
Scientists believe that many cases of Lyme disease are unreported. Shockingly, your pets are not the only one at the risk of Lyme disease. This disease can also be transmitted to humans.

Thus, it is very important to take it seriously when you see a tick on your pet's body or you suspect it might be suffering from Lyme disease.
Here, you will learn everything you need to know about the Lyme disease. You will learn what it is, risks, symptoms, as well as the treatment of Lyme disease. Keep on reading to find out more.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease, also known as "Lyme borreliosis", is an infection that causes arthritis and lameness in pets. This bacterial infection is caused by a bacterium known Borrelia burgdorferi.

Typically, pets such as dogs and cats get infected with Lyme disease when bitten by the deer tick or by the Western black-legged tick.

When any of these ticks bite your pet, it will transmit the Lyme disease into your pet's bloodstream. When infected with Lyme disease, your pet can suffer from kidney, heart, and neurological problems.
It is important to mention that Lyme disease is classified as "zoonotic disease". This simply means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans.

It can also be transmitted to a human if you got bitten by a tick. Lyme disease got its name from a town in Connecticut in the United States where it was first reported.

Who is at Risk?

Lyme disease mostly affects dogs. This disease can affect dogs of all sizes, breeds, and ages. The chances of your dog getting Lyme disease is high when it spends a lot of time outdoors.

In many cases, you cannot easily spot ticks and it is almost impossible to identify a tick bite.
Other animals at risk include:
  • Cats
  • Outdoor pets
  • Pets sharing fields with mice and deer
  • Pets in the Northeastern U.S. and the upper Midwest


In some extreme cases, your pet can suffer from symptoms such as kidney failure or serious cardiac and neurological effects can occur.

It is absolutely important that you treat Lyme disease before it progresses to this stage.

Can Lyme Disease Affect Humans?

Like we mentioned before, Lyme disease can affect humans. In fact, it is a more serious problem in humans.

When you are affected by Lyme disease, you can suffer from joint problems and even kidney failure in some extreme cases. Most people that suffer from Lyme disease contracted it from their dogs or cats.

How is Lyme Disease Diagnosed?

If you suspect that your dog or cat is suffering from Lyme disease, you need to take it to a veterinarian immediately. The vet is going to run a blood test and examine the pet for any possible symptoms of Lyme disease.

Usually, doctors will run an antibody test, if it comes out positive, it means that your pet has been exposed to the bacterium.
Other diagnoses for Lyme Disease include:
  • Blood parasite screening
  • Fecal tests to rule out intestinal parasites
  • CBC (a complete blood count)

How Can Lyme Disease Be Treated?

Vets usually treat Lyme disease with the antibiotic administration for several weeks. The antibiotics will be given to the pet until the symptoms are resolved.

Your vet will examine your pet and recommend the right antibiotic depending on the symptoms.

Can Lyme Disease be Prevented?

You can take the steps below to prevent your pet from getting Lyme disease:
  • Check for ticks daily
  • Don't allow your pet to spend a lot of time outdoor
  • Keep your pet away from mice and deer
  • Ask your vet to run regular checks
  • Ask your vet to vaccinate your pet against Lyme disease
  • Wear rubber or gloves and inspect for ticks around the head and neck of your pet
  • Buy tweezers and use it to remove ticks from your pet's skin.