How do I know if my pet has Lyme disease?

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

What is Lyme disease?

The bacteria borrelia is carried by the Western black-legged tick and causes Lyme disease, which is transmitted when ticks feed on infected animals like birds, deer and mice. This infection is then passed onto any subsequent animals bitten by the infected tick.

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 pet if your vet suspects your pet may have Lyme disease.

In the course of your appointment, your vet will ask a number of different questions in order to gain a detailed understanding of your pet's condition and medical history. They will then complete a battery of tests from x-rays to fecal exams, urine analysis and blood tests. Your vet may also draw fluid from your pet's joints and then analyze it for signs of disease. 

What happens if my pet receives a Lyme disease diagnosis?

When diagnosed with Lyme disease, pets are usually treated on an outpatient basis. This will typically involve at least a four-week course of antibiotics, though your vet may also prescribe pain medication if the disease has made your dog especially uncomfortable. 

How can I prevent Lyme disease?

Avoiding ticks as much as possible will go a long way to 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 also recommend appropriate boosters and vaccines if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common. You should remove any ticks you find on your dog to help to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases from spreading. While pets won't be able to spread infections themselves, they can bring infected ticks into your home. And those parasites may transmit Lyme disease to you and your household.

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 The Landing Veterinary Hospital today.