How do I know if my pet has Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. In this post, our East Setauket vets share information about Lyme disease in pets: what it is, symptoms to watch for and treatment options.

What is Lyme disease?

Borrelia burgdorferi is carried by deer ticks and causes infectious Lyme disease, which is spread when ticks feed on infected animals like deer, birds, and mice. When an infected tick bites another animal, the infection spreads.

What symptoms of Lyme disease should I watch out for?

In our four-legged friends, common symptoms of Lyme disease may include anything from general discomfort or malaise to depression, lack of appetite, and lameness due to inflamed joints. 

Also beware of any fever, difficulty breathing, or sensitivity to touch.

How can my vet diagnose Lyme disease?

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

During the appointment, your veterinarian will ask a series of questions to gain a thorough understanding of your pet's medical history before performing a battery of tests such as urinalysis, fecal exam, x-rays, and blood tests. Fluid from your pet's affected joints may also be drawn and analyzed for disease signs.

What happens if my pet receives a Lyme disease diagnosis?

When pets are diagnosed with Lyme disease, they are typically treated as outpatients. This will usually entail at least a four-week course of antibiotics, though your vet may also prescribe pain medication if the disease has caused your dog a lot of discomfort.

How can I prevent Lyme disease?

Avoiding ticks as much as possible will go a long way toward 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 vet 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 may 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 illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at Setauket Animal Hospital today.