The risk of contracting Lyme Disease has increased over the last few years and it is only going to get worse. So what exactly is Lyme Disease and how can you prevent it?
Lyme Disease is an inflammatory illness caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia burgdorferi is a worm-like, corkscrew shaped bacterium that is carried and transmitted by ticks, such as the black legged tick aka the “Deer tick”, when they feed on our furry little ones and even ourselves. As a pet parent, being able to spot the signs, seek treatment, and taking preventative measures is very important to reduce the risk of contracting Lyme disease.
When this disease is contracted by humans, they show flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle/joint pain and swollen lymph nodes 3-30 days after being bitten. In pets, however, it could take 2-5 months for them to show signs like lameness, fever, loss of appetite, joint swelling, and decreased activity. Recurrent lameness may occur, and the body part effected may be tender. Keep in mind swelling of the joints can last anywhere from days to weeks and can go from one body part to the next. Seeking treatment and keeping your pet comfortable are essential for recovery.
A veterinarian visit that includes blood work and a urine protein screening may be necessary to show whether the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium is present. Once diagnosed, Lyme disease is usually treated with antibiotics. However, if your pet is extreme discomfort, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories may be given in conjuncture with antibiotics.
The best way to protect yourselves and your pets against Lyme disease is to take preventative measures. A great place to start is with prevention products such as topicals, collars, shampoos, and even natural tick sprays. A Sun and Bug Blocker suit (pictured) can also be used and will offer not only protection from bugs but from harmful UV rays as well. Vaccinating your pet is also an option. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian first to ensure vaccination is what is best for them. Checking yourself and your pet thoroughly after outdoor activity is also crucial. Give your pet a head to toe examine and make sure to pay special attention to the ears, feet, armpits, and groin. Keeping your lawn maintained and clearing shrubbery will help reduce nesting/hiding spots for ticks as well.
Have you or your pet been affected by Lyme Disease? Tell us your story in the Comments.