Why Should You Fear Lyme Disease?

When you own a pet, it can quickly become one of your best friends and your most dedicated companion. There is something completely unique and powerful about the connection between a person and their furry friend. Personally, owning a dog has been one of the best choices I've ever made, and the same has been said from friends with cats. And, the best part is how much these fuzzballs show their affection to their owners, too.

Because pet owners love their animals, it makes sense that they should make every attempt to keep it healthy. Most of the time it is simple to keep your cat or dog in good spirits. Play with it often, make sure it gets plenty of exercise, have a healthy diet and schedule regular trips to a veterinarian will have your friend living a long and healthy life.

Just like chocolate bars and spilled antifreeze on the garage floor, there are certain things that were never meant to mix with our pets, in fact some things can be downright deadly. One of the most common and frustrating problems that can plague our pets is fleas and ticks. These gross little insects can do more than cause an itching fit for our animals; they can carry a number of different illnesses and diseases, some of which are very serious. Lyme Disease is most well known virus associated with fleas and ticks, it's the one that should be taken the most seriously.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease
Depending on the age and general health of your animal, contracting Lyme Disease from a flea or tick can cause symptoms that range from mild to fatal, depending on how quickly you get it to a veterinarian. Lyme Disease is a serious ailment and should be diagnosed and treated by a professional, there is no "at-home" or over-the-counter solution once your pet contracts Lyme Disease. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Sore Joints: When a pet comes down with Lyme Disease, it will often have tender joints around the hips, shoulders and legs
  • Limping: When joints swell up on a cat or dog, it is common for limping to occur. Generally with Lyme Disease, you will notice your pet start favoring their rear legs and have trouble holding up their body weight.
  • Fevers: A mild fever is generally associated with Lyme Disease. Also, the disease affects a pet's immune system, too. If you notice a general lethargic demeanor and an increase of common colds, take your dog to a vet immediately.

Preventing Lyme Disease
If you live near a heavily wooded area and let your pets play outside often, you may be at risk for exposure to fleas or ticks. Ticks are generally most active when the weather is warmer. On days where it is hot and the humidity is low is a tick's favorite time to jump on hosts. Longer grass and thick vegetation are popular thriving spots, too.

If this sounds like your backyard, be sure to invest in a quality flea and tick treatment plan. Flea collars are nice, but a popular treatment such as Frontline can be the best thing to give a pet owner a peace of mind.

How Is Lyme Disease Treated?

Sometimes it can be difficult for vets to diagnose Lyme Disease. Unless you tell your vet that your pet has come in contact with fleas or ticks, they may not test your animal for the disease. Many times a pet may be misdiagnosed with a common cold or flu instead of Lyme Disease. If you think that your animal may be at risk, ask the vet specifically to test for Lyme Disease.

According to the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, the most effective way to treat Lyme Disease is a 30-day course of a strong antibiotic such as Doxycycline if the disease is diagnosed quickly. If the Lyme Disease has inflamed your pet's joints excessively, other drugs may be used to bring the swelling down. Also, since Lyme Disease can harm the kidney, there may be other drugs used to minimize further health problems.

Families with a dog or cat that has contracted Lyme Disease (it is much more common in dogs than cats) should not worry about the illness being spread to their loved ones. Lyme Disease is not contagious to humans from dogs or cats, so you can still snuggle with your companion even if they come down with Lyme Disease.

By Sean Bowes
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