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How do I know if my pet has Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases around the world. Here, our North Boulder vets share some important information about Lyme disease in pets: what it is, symptoms to watch for, and treatment options.

What is Lyme disease?

The bacteria Borrelia is carried by ticks and causes infectious Lyme disease. Ticks become infected with the bacteria when they feed on infected animals such as deer, birds and mice. This infection is then passed to other animals when the infected tick bites them. 

What symptoms of Lyme disease?

In our furry friends, the most common symptoms of Lyme disease include general discomfort, malaise or depression, lack of appetite and lameness due to painful inflamed joints. 

Lyme may also lead to symptoms such as fever, difficulty breathing or sensitivity to touch.

How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?

Book an appointment with your vet if you suspect your pet may have Lyme disease. 

During the appointment, your vet will ask a number of questions regarding your pet's medical history, then complete a battery of tests including urine analysis, fecal exam, x-rays and blood tests. Fluid may also be drawn from your pet's affected joints, then analyzed for signs of the disease. 

What happens if my pet receives a Lyme disease diagnosis?

Hospitalization is not typically required for pets with Lyme disease. If your pet is diagnosed with Lyme your vet will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics to be administered for four weeks or longer. Your vet may also prescribe pain medication if the disease has made your furry friend especially uncomfortable. 

How can I prevent Lyme disease?

Staying away from areas where ticks might be lurking will go a long way to controlling and preventing disease. Sprays, monthly products and vaccines are available, although many work best before dogs are exposed to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. 

Your veterinarian may recommend appropriate boosters and vaccines if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common. You should promptly remove any ticks you find on your dog to help prevent Lyme and other diseases from spreading. Though dogs will not directly infect people, our pets may bring infected ticks into the house, which could then attach to another person or animal and transmit Lyme disease.

Do you suspect your pet has Lyme disease? Our vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating many common tick borne illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at North Boulder Companion Animal Hospital today.

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