Lyme disease is something you may have heard about before but what exactly is it? Today we explore what Lyme disease is, what animals can get Lyme disease, how it’s transmitted, and more.
What is Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial spread by ticks that involves a skin rash and joint pain. Specifically it is the “bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and rarely, Borrelia mayonii” [Source].
Can only dogs get Lyme disease?
No. Cats, horses, deer, mice, chipmunks, opossums, squirrels, and raccoons can also get Lyme disease.
You should apply a vet-approved flea and tick prevention method to help prevent Lyme disease and discuss vaccination against Lyme disease with your veterinarian.
How are animals infected?
The bacteria is passed through the bite of an infected tick. In most cases, the tick needs to be attached for 24-48 hours before the bacteria can infect the animal. This means, whenever you come back from a walk you should make sure you and your pet do not have any ticks attached to yourselves. You can learn how to remove a tick on the CDC website. There also are tools designed to remove ticks from dogs and cats.
How does Lyme disease affect my dog?
Lameness, fever, or possible bacterial infection in the kidneys or heart can take as long as 5 months to appear. Issues tend to be focused around the elbows and joints. Lyme disease cannot be transferred from dog to dog or dog to human.
What do I do if I suspect my dog is infected?
Some of the common symptoms you need to look out for are:
- Generalized stiffness, discomfort, or pain;
- Lameness (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring);
- Loss of appetite;
- Reduced energy;
- Swelling of joints
If you have been in tall, grassy areas that may not be treated for ticks and notice these symptoms seek veterinary care.
Can humans contract Lyme disease?
Yes, humans can become infected with Lyme disease. Lyme disease cannot be contracted from your dog or cat that is infected. You can however be infected by a carrier tick that was attached to your pet. If you believe you have Lyme disease call your physician. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on a variety of factors – one of which can be laboratory testing.