Protecting your pet is a large undertaking. In order to keep them safe, it’s important to know what you are protecting them against. One of the threats to your pet’s health is Lyme Disease. We recommend that you talk to a trusted vet about your concerns so they can walk you through some options to ease that anxiety. Visit our website to set up an appointment to begin that process.
Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks. They latch onto just about anything with skin, but there are animal species that are more susceptible to the disease, including dogs, cattle, and horses. The disease does not exclude humans for being at risk, either. Lyme is zoonotic, meaning a disease that can be transmitted from animal to human. Again, if a tick can bite the skin, then the species is at risk. Unlike a bee that dies after stinging, ticks will go from host to host, and that can include between your herd or family members. Knowing how the disease affects your animal, and possibly you, is a large part of protecting your family.
Lyme Disease’s Effect on the Body
Alright, so you found a tick. You’ve successfully removed its body and head from the host. Now what? From this point, you have a couple similar paths to choose from. If you’re worried immediately about if your dog was bitten by an infected tick, then call your vet. Set up an appointment to have the tick itself tested. Put the tick in a bag, a jar, anything to bring it into the clinic. The symptoms can take a few weeks to develop, so this route is expedited. By picking the alternate path, you will be monitoring the bitten animal. Typically, Lyme symptoms are indicative to veterinarians that your pet is Lyme positive. The more information you’re able to give your vet, the more care they can offer. Here are some symptoms to be aware of:
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of motivation to move
- Joint stiffness/ pain
- Joint swelling
If Lyme is not treated, it can result in kidney failure later in life. This means that along with damage to the kidney, there will be problems in the cardiac and nervous systems that will last much longer than just a fever. The best way to combat Lyme Disease is to be proactive in preventing it. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it will save your wallet too.
Preventing the Disease
A simple tip to prevent your animal from getting a deer tick bite would be to regularly inspect them for any ticks that are still on their skin. The sooner those pesky ticks are found, the slimmer the chances are that your animal will catch Lyme. We specifically recommend checking less noticeable areas, such as feet/ hooves, around the eyes, on the underbelly, on the tail, and around the anus. If a check ever leads to finding a tick, remove the whole tick as soon as possible. The head can be difficult to get out, so it can be easier to get the tick to detach itself from the skin. This can include tricks like burning the butt-end of the tick, or suffocating it in nail polish. Those methods do not always work for tick removal, so we recommend going to a vet, especially if the tick is deeply embedded in the skin. It’s better to have peace of mind than shrugging off a future threat.
Your vet’s help does not just extend to the aftermath of a bite. Local vets know the area you live in very well, which means that they understand the threats associated with where you could be exposed. By keeping your vet in the loop about preventative care options, your pet will receive a plan tailored to them. When you take your pet or animal in for a regular visit, talk to your vet tech about your Lyme concerns. Having a discussion about these concerns will lead to you being a better caretaker for your specific animal and their needs. During any visit to the vet, ask your vet if they find any ticks! They have an extra, more experienced, pair of hands and eyes, which only helps your animal.
In general, ticks can carry all sorts of diseases, so another very good method to prevent any Lyme is to use tick and flea repellant regularly. This repellent, along with checks, is the best way to take care of your animal’s well-being. Asking your vet what repellents they recommend is a great first step to take when you want to include your vet in tick prevention. A good rule of thumb to determine if your pet needs regular repellent applications is to consider their contact with carriers. If your hunting dog is out every weekend with you, then regular application would be necessary. Every situation is different, and the best way to protect your pet is to talk to your vet and come up with a plan of action that works best in your specific situation. For more about Lyme Disease in dogs specifically, visit this website for more information.
The preventative measures do not mean that your animal is immune, however, so Lyme is still a possibility, no matter how careful you are. The next section details treating Lyme Disease in dogs, so continue reading.
Lyme Disease Treatment in Dogs
Lyme treatment in dogs is fairly simple, depending on the severity of the case. Most likely, your veterinarian will recommend an initial treatment of antibiotics for 30 or so days. If the disease is still present after taking the antibiotic, then a more aggressive treatment plan will be pursued. If you are not interested in medication, there are plenty of animal physical therapists that will reduce the symptoms like joint stiffness or swolleness. Talk to your vet about possibilities.
Lyme Disease in Large Animals
Similar to the canine treatment, cattle and horse cases can be treated with antibiotics. There are still questions on which antibiotic is the most effective, but research continues currently. Physical therapy is strongly encouraged, especially in large animals; their joints have to hold a lot more weight than a dog’s joints do. To walk through options and prevent more of the herd from contracting Lyme, contact your vet.
Cloud Peak Veterinary Services is more than willing and able to work on a prevention plan and get you any treatment your dogs, cows, horses, etc. needs. Visit our website or give us a call! Our number is (307) 347-2781 and we’re awaiting your call!