Lyme Disease and Your Dog: Know the Risks and Protection Strategies
You may already know that Lyme disease comes from ticks, but a lesser known fact is that Lyme disease is actually caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. These bacteria are transmitted when a dog is bitten by an infected tick. So, contrary to popular belief, the tick itself does not actually cause the disease. Ticks are found in many areas throughout the United States. According to Washington State University, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne (transmitted by insects or arthropods) disease occurring in people and probably in dogs in the United States. Lyme disease in dogs has been reported in all 50 states, and the frequency of the disease has been increasing over the years. Lyme disease is very dangerous and can lead to neurological disorders in your dog if left untreated. Even after treatment, many dogs still have relapses and experience chronic pain. Get started on the road to recovery today by recognizing the signs of Lyme disease.
How to Know if Your Dog has Lyme Disease
A blood test is available to check for Borrelia burgdorferi; however, most dogs who live in an area with ticks will test positive, even if they do not have Lyme disease. The test will tell you if your dog has been exposed to the bacteria causing Lyme disease, but will not tell you if he is experiencing any problems from it. The test may also show up positive if your dog has been vaccinated for the disease. If you think your dog may have Lyme disease, look for a variety of acute symptoms. Approximately 90% of dogs start limping within a few days after becoming infected with Lyme disease. Once the infection has started, it begins to progress, often making it impossible for a dog to walk. Your dog may also seem to be more depressed, less active, and will usually develop a fever. Often times a dog may appear completely normal, and then show symptoms a few hours later.
How to Prevent Lyme Disease
Even though a tick infestation can go undetected, there is hope for your dog before they contract Lyme disease! Reduce the chance of your dog getting Lyme disease by keeping your dog out of areas that are infested with ticks though this is sometimes impossible. Your dog can get infested by ticks just by spending time playing in your back yard! Any visible ticks should be removed as soon as possible to prevent transmitting the bacteria. Because a tick can be as small as the head of a needle, they can be very difficult to spot, so a thorough bath can be a better idea than manual removal.
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