by Colleen Williams
Lyme disease prevention is important in humans, but did you know pets can get it too? Both cats and dogs can contract Lyme disease (although in cats, it is rare). With spring showers come creepy crawlies that can pass this disease to your pet. Here’s what you need to know to keep your furry family safe this spring.
LYME DISEASE PREVENTION MONTH
The American Lyme Disease Foundation has declared April as Lyme Disease Prevention Month. As the weather gets warmer in North America, deer ticks emerge. The culprit behind the Lyme disease infection (caused by a type of bacteria called Borrelia Burgdorferi), deer ticks bite the skin and transmit bacteria into the blood stream. The organism then “settles in,” making a nice little home in the joints and wreaking havoc on your pup or kitty’s health.
LYME DISEASE CAN AFFECT CATS AND DOGS
Symptoms are similar for both dogs and cats – while sometimes they are not apparent or there are no signs at all:
- Dogs with Lyme disease will usually show lameness or limping, as well as a high fever and general discomfort. Many times, the symptoms will go unrecognized and Lyme disease will not be considered until other diseases have been ruled out.
- Cats will also show lameness due to inflammation of the joints, as well as a lack of appetite and lethargy. Some cats develop kidney conditions, and rarely heart or nervous system diseases.
Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the possibility of Lyme disease if you notice any of the above symptoms, or if you live in a high-risk area.
- Limit exposure to areas where ticks live, such as leaves and short trees in grassy, wooded, or sandy areas. Cats should be kept inside to avoid tick-infested areas. If hiking or enjoying the outdoors with your dog, stick to the trail and avoid going through the woods.
- Ask your veterinarian about a safe, effective Lyme disease vaccination, and if it’s right for your dog. The Cornell Feline Health Center advises that there is no Lyme disease vaccine for cats.
- After each walk, inspect your dog (and your family) for ticks and carefully remove any that you find – you’ll need tweezers and gloves to limit your own exposure. Consult your vet on how to do so or bring your pet in for removal.