Lyme disease endangers the lives of millions of dogs every year across the globe. As the mercury rises, tick numbers increase and so does the risk of Lyme disease. This, in turn, puts the lives of our pets in danger.
According to a report, Lyme disease has been one of the most prevalent tick-borne diseases in the world compared to the others. The worst part, in fact, is – only a few percentages of dogs actually exhibit symptoms. Most of them rather go undetected until the last stage encroaches. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the risk factors, the symptoms dogs show and how pet parents can prevent their dog from getting infested in the first place.
How Is Lyme disease Transmitted to Dogs?
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which is found in most of the wildlife animals like rodents and mammals. When a deer tick feeds on these animals, the bacterial larvae get transmitted into the tick body where they mature and become infectious. When this infected tick takes another blood meal from the dog or cat to complete its lifecycle, the bacterium gets transferred inside the mammal and causes Lyme disease.
Symptoms Of Lyme Disease In Dogs
Though only a few of the dogs actually exhibit symptoms, some of them which do, experience –
- Joint Swelling
In case, Lyme disease is not detected early, the condition may exacerbate to kidney failure and neurological dysfunction which may, in turn, lead to the death of the affected animal. Therefore, one must keep a tap on their pet’s health and pay regular vet visits for early detection.
How to Diagnose Lyme disease In Dogs?
The first strategy of detection includes an examination of the symptoms. A vet checks the dog thoroughly for the presence of ticks and bumps of any sort. Furthermore, a blood test is carried out to detect the antibodies created in the dog’s body against the bacterium. If the test shows positive, the dog is diagnosed for containing the strain and is likewise treated. However, at times, this test can also give false results because once the disease stays in the body for a longer period; it may not contain a detectable amount of antibodies. Therefore, a second test – Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) may be conducted to gauge the presence of bacteria in the body parts of the animal, like joints.
Treatment of Lyme disease generally involves therapies and antibiotics. However, it is recommended to rather prevent the occurrence of disease than curing it. Reason being, in cases where it goes undiagnosed, a pet may have to suffer from fatal consequences whereas prevention completely eliminates the chances of contraction. Therefore, pet parents are recommended to follow a Lyme disease prevention program for better management of the disease.
How to Prevent Lyme Disease In Dogs?
Regardless of whether you are living in a tick-infested area or not, tick prevention is of prime importance. Globalization and people traveling quite frequently with their pets nowadays, has expanded tick population to other states which all the more necessitates the urgency of Lyme disease prevention.
So, here are some guidelines recommended by most of the vets across the globe which can help you combat the menace.
- Regular physical inspection of a pet is necessary to ensure there are no ticks on the pet. The pet must be checked necessarily when he returns back from outdoors.
- In case you see bumps on the dog’s body while you move your hand around, report about it to your vet. If you actually find a tick attached to his body, pull it out gently with the help of tweezers.
Make sure you don’t twist it otherwise you will break the tick’s head which may cause vomiting inside the pet’s body, ultimately leaving the pet infected.
Flush this tick in the toilet or dump it in the alcohol for further examination.
- Use flea and tick preventative monthly pills or chews. They are the most effective way of keeping the dog protected from ticks when continued year round.
- Use tick collars, tick sprays to safeguard your dog when going out to a dog park, picnic or even just a walk.
- Bath your dog thoroughly with tick shampoos and keep him well-groomed all the time. Follow good hygiene to make him less attractive to ticks.
- Keep the grass and bushes in the yard short, lawn mowed. Also, make sure you remove the leaf litter regularly because ticks find them to be the best place to hide. Keep the trash bins closed to prevent the rodents from getting enticed to your yard.
- Vacuuming the house weekly is a necessary part of preventing the house and the pet from infestation. Linens, pet beddings, his belongings, upholstery, furniture – everything must be wiped or washed weekly.
- Feed the right food to your pet as per his/her age to strengthen his immunity. Keep him healthy and maintain optimal weight.
- Pet parents must also vaccinate their dogs and cats against Lyme disease. However, consultation with professionals is a must as some pets may not be fit enough for this method.
Tick prevention is not just important for your pet but also for you as well because Lyme disease can occur in humans too if the infected tick bites your skin. So, if you don’t want to get into unnecessary trouble and want to keep your pet and surroundings disease free, follow these guidelines diligently.