April is the month when a special accent is put on Lyme disease as we transition to Spring and Summer and the ticks in the grass everywhere wake up. April is a great time to start educating pet owners how to protect their beloved pets from this disease.
Lyme disease is a disease caused by a spirochete bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. The disease can be transmitted to humans, a zoonosis, and it is transmitted by the nymph stage of the black-legged tick Ixodes scapularis. Usually, not always, the infected tick must be attached to the dog for at least 24 hours for the infection to occur.
Even if a dog test positive for Lyme disease, it may not show any symptoms. If symptoms develop, you should look for signs of lameness in the legs, swollen joints, lethargy, fever, and enlarged lymph nodes. Usually, when clinical symptoms do develop, they develop 2-5 months after the tick bite. The disease cannot be transmitted from one dog to another, or from the dog to a human. The infection must come from a tick bite.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is to put your dog on a strict, spot-on, tick control regimen, and always after walks in the park or places with tall grass to check the dog as thorough as you can. If you find a tick, never try to pluck it out with bare hands. Always use gloves and specialized tweezers for ticks. If you are not sure how to take the tick out, take the dog to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.
In some countries, there is a vaccine available that can protect your dog against Lyme disease. Ask your veterinarian about the occurrence of Lyme disease in your area, and if the vaccine is available and necessary.
For more information on Lyme disease, we made an infographic while back, so take a look by clicking here Lyme Disease Infographic
- Note: this article was originally published March 28, 2018.