Lyme Disease

Spring has officially reached us in Lake Elmo, which means we all start to get pretty excited at being able to head outdoors without multiple layers of clothing to protect us from the elements. However, there’s one lurking parasite that also has been waiting for spring. Once temperatures hit 40 degrees, ticks are hungry, alert and looking for a meal, one of which possibly may be you or your pet. While ticks may carry a variety of diseases, we’re going to discuss Lyme disease in this article and how to prevent it.

What Causes Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is spread by the bite of an infected “deer tick”, otherwise known as a blacklegged tick. These ticks tend to be more prevalent in areas heavily populated by deer and mice. The ticks  become infected when feeding off of a host that is infected, and then the tick transmits the Borrelia burgdorfer bacterium when feeding off of the new host. In order for Lyme disease to be transmitted, the tick must be on the host for 24-48 hours.

What Are Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Once the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium travels through a host’s body, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Lethargy
  • Joint stiffness and swelling
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes

If you notice these behavioral or physical changes in your pet, please call our Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo veterinary team and we can test your pet for Lyme Disease. Early treatment helps to lower Lyme disease infection’s impact on your pet’s kidneys. If your pet does test positive, an antibiotic which has been proven effective in resolving symptoms may be prescribed.

How Can I Protect My Pets From Lyme Disease

The best ways to protect your pets from Lyme disease are to avoid contact with ticks, use preventive measures, and vaccinate your pets for Lyme disease each year.

Take an inventory of where you live. Look around, and notice any shady, damp areas at ground level. Look toward edges of woods or fences and walls. Ticks like long grass where they can easily attach to a host walking by, as well as places they can hide out of direct sunlight. By keeping your grass mowed and clearing debris from the edges of your lawn, you can help in keeping tick populations down. If you do consider hiring a lawn service company to treat for pests such as rodents and ticks, be sure to inform them about your pets. Follow directions carefully so as not to have your pet exposed to potentially hazardous chemicals.

When walking with your pets, avoid areas where tick populations may be higher, especially such as longer grass and dark, damp areas of the woods. Additionally, avoid areas where deer may congregate, as the likelihood of Lyme-infected ticks is higher.

For your pets, use a flea and tick prevention year-round to help protect your pet. Our Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo veterinarians can help guide you to the best solution for your pet, based on age, overall health and lifestyle. Each tick preventive works a bit differently, whether repelling or killing the ticks. It’s important to note that it’s still imperative that you check your pet over frequently, especially after venturing outside, for ticks that may have attached to your pet. Should you find a tick, use tweezers to remove it instead of your bare hands. Gently remove the tick, and clean the area with a small amount of rubbing alcohol.  Monitor the area for signs of infection, and call us if you notice any swelling, redness, or any of the previously mentioned Lyme Disease symptoms.

We hope you have a fun and adventure-filled spring!

Photo Credit: Enterline Design Services LLC / iStock / Getty Images Plus

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