Lyme disease, also called Borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by Borrelia bacteria. The disease is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an affected tick. A tick first picks up the bacteria by attaching to infected animals like deer, mice, or birds. The deer tick and black-legged tick are the ticks that commonly carry and spread the Borrelia bacteria, which is responsible for Lyme disease. Learn how ticks spread disease from the CDC. Ticks are found in forests or grassy, wooded areas near marshes, rivers, lakes or oceans. Deer ticks live in moist, shady areas near ground level, and cling to tall grass and brush.
Symptoms and Treatment
Photo courtesy CDC
The warning signs and symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs and cats can vary. Symptoms can appear months after a tick bite, may be vague, and often mimic other diseases leading to difficult or a potential misdiagnosis. If left untreated, Lyme infections can affect the kidneys, nervous system, and heart. Veterinarians can take an antibody blood test, which can show whether an animal has been exposed to the Borrelia bacteria and help determine an appropriate treatment. Common signs include:
- Painful or swollen joints
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat Lyme infections in dogs and cats. Some animals may require more than one round of treatment to lessen signs of infection. Antibiotics may not eliminate the infection completely, which can lead to symptom flare-ups or permanent conditions.
Who Is at Risk?
Animals that spend time outdoors, especially in tick-infested areas, have a higher risk of exposure. Both people and animals may be bitten by ticks during outdoor activities or even while spending time in their own back yards. View forecasts for Lyme Disease in your area.
The best way to protect your pet from disease is avoidance from ticks and taking precautionary steps. Start by using a reliable tick-preventative product for your pet. Fortunately, there are highly effective preventative products for both cats and dogs. Preventatives must be used consistently in order to provide effective longterm tick control. It is best to talk with your veterinarian about which one is right for your pet and your area of the country. It is important that the product you use repels the types of ticks in your area. If you live in a climate with freezing temperatures, don’t be fooled, ticks can hibernate over the winter.
If spending time outdoors, it’s important to find and remove any ticks on you or your pet as soon as possible. The longer a tick stays attached, the more likely it will transmit disease. Pets can bring Lyme infected ticks into the house, which can then attach to other animals and people, spreading the disease.
How To Check Your Pet For Ticks:
Run your hands slowly over your dog or cat’s entire body feeling for bumps or lumps. Ticks can be very small and like to hide out inside ears, between toes, under the tail and collar, and in the armpit and groin areas. Don’t forget to check yourself too!
Additional Tips to Avoid Ticks
- Vaccination. Preventative vaccines are available for dogs. Ask your veterinarian whether a Lyme disease vaccination is appropriate for your dog.
- Keep lawns, shrubs, brush, and trees trimmed to help reduce tick populations.
- Keep woodpiles neatly stacked and remove leaf piles.
- Place a 3 ft barrier of wood chips or gravel between yards and wooded areas to prevent tick migration.
- Consider a pesticide application to control an infestation. Use caution with pets.
Lyme Disease Risk to Humans
Dogs and cats cannot directly transmit this disease to humans. Because people and their pets are often together outdoors as well as indoors, a Lyme disease diagnosis for your pet could be a warning for you to consult a physician. Additionally, dogs and cats may bring infected ticks into the household, which can attach to another animal or person, and transmit disease. Learn more about Lyme disease in humans at CDC or Lyme Disease.org
VetRxDirect carries a large selection of tick preventatives for dogs and cats including topicals, oral medications, collars, shampoos, sprays, and products for the home. Visit our website for more information and check out a few we’ve listed below!
Effipro Plus is a topical treatment for cats that kills all stages of fleas and ticks including deer ticks, brown dog ticks, American dog ticks, and lone star ticks. It also kills chewing lice and repels mosquitoes that can carry heartworms. Apply Effipro Plus once a month for long-lasting, waterproof protection.
Bravecto is a prescription strength topical just for cats. Bravecto gives your cat protection against fleas and black-legged ticks (deer ticks) for 12 weeks,and dog ticks for 8 weeks. It contains fluralaner as a long-acting insecticide to not only kill but also help break the life cycle. Bravecto is also designed to eliminate fleas in as little as 8 hours.
NexGard is a prescription, chewable flea and tick preventative for dogs contains afoxolaner It kills adult fleas, black-legged tick, American dog tick, Lone Star tick, and brown dog tick. NexGard is formulated to give protection for 30 days and is FDA Approved to Prevent Lyme Disease
Effitix Plus is a broad spectrum topical for dogs. It kills and repels all life stages of fleas and ticks including brown dog ticks, deer ticks, lone star ticks, and American dog ticks. Effitix Plus also repels and kills mosquitoes that may carry heartworm, repels biting flies, kills lice, and helps control sarcoptic mange.