What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme Disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi that lives in deer, mice and other small mammals, and is then transmitted by the Deer tick or Black-legged tick after it attaches to one of the carriers mentioned above. Lyme Disease is the most common tick-borne diseases in the United States. When an infected tick attaches itself to your pet, it takes about 24 hours for the tick to transmit the bacteria into the blood of your pet.
The most common sign of Lyme Disease is sudden lameness of one or more joints. Some other signs are pain. swelling in the joints, fever, dehydration, loss of appetite and inactivity. Some of us have heard that a rash that looks like a bulls-eye will show up if an infected tick has bitten you, but that is not the case in pets. A less common, but more serious sign is kidney failure.
To diagnose Lyme Disease we do an in house blood test that tests just for Lyme or a test called a 4DX. The 4DX tests for 4 diseases; Heartworm, Lyme Disease and 2 other tick-borne diseases (Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis). These tests gives us results in just 10 minutes. However, depending on when your pet was bitten by a tick, your pet may not test positive if it is the early stages of the disease. Because of this, we recommend waiting about 6 weeks after tick bite to test due to the fact that it takes approximately 6 weeks for the disease show up on this test.
Helping to prevent your pet from Lyme Disease can be quite simple. The first defense is a good flea and tick preventative and checking your pet each time it comes in from outside, especially those who wonder into the wooded areas. When checking your pet for ticks, it best to do a full body feel, this means not only checking the obvious places (like the head and body), but checking the ears, inside the ears, paws/in between paw pads, groin area, pretty much anywhere and everywhere on your pet.
Another good preventative is getting your dog vaccinated with the Lyme Disease vaccine. Just like many vaccines, this a two step vaccine, your dog will get the initial vaccine then will need a booster in one month of the first vaccine.
Although it is very uncommon, cats can also get Lyme Disease.