Patapsco Valley View
Lyme Disease Can Make Your Pet
Feel Like A Lemon
Lyme Disease can make your pet feel like a Lemon!
It's such a lovely day for a walk. The sky is blue, the air is clear, and that cozy little grove of trees is calling you to "Come! Walk your dog, bathe in my own little piece of Nature. Enjoy the Peace and Quiet!"
What you don't see is that little army of bugs that are planning their assault on your pet! Spiders, aside from the Black Widow and Brown Recluse, are normally more ugly than dangerous. Fleas are a nuisance but will rarely cause more than a skin eruption, (except in debilitated or young animals where a flea infestation can cause anemia.) Your main enemy, hiding in that patch of verdant, green scrub grass if the TICK!
Not only one of the ugliest creatures on the face of the earth, the tick is also more dangerous than its size would indicate. An opportunist, the tick is not a picky feeder. It will settle for your golden retriever, the family tabby cat, or your leg. All of the above make for a delicious meal for this enterprising scourge of the glade.
In Maryland we primarily see three types of ticks, although the Lone Star Tick is making some headway, and no he doesn't wear a cowboy hat, he has a funny little white spot on it's back. The American Dog Tick (being American does not keep him from attacking German Shepherds, French Poodles, or English Bulldogs) is the most common critter that you find in the woods. The Brown Dog Tick (he does attack other color dogs and occasionally cats) is also quite comfortable here in Maryland. The most famous of these hard shelled menaces is the Deer Tick, so named because it tends to feed on the beautiful white tailed deer. Very small and often hard to find on one's body, the Deer Tick is the primary carrier of Lyme Disease (so named because it was originally diagnosed in Lyme, Connecticut). Lighter in color than most other ticks, the Deer Tick can be as small as the head of a pin.
The Deer Tick begins to feed by embedding its mouth deeply into the skin. While Enjoying its blood meal, it can leave a 'gratuity': the spirochete that can cause Lyme Disease.
Once bitten by the tick your pet's immune system may develop antibodies on its own. Under the right circumstances these antibodies may recognize the spirochete and destroy it as an enemy. In this instance, your pet is unlikely to develop a true case of Lyme Disease.
However, if the immune system does not destroy the invader, your pet could become ill.
The main symptoms of Lyme Disease are lameness or generalized stiffness/soreness, due to invasion of the organism into the joints. Lyme can be a miserable enemy, making your pet feel lethargic, painful, and inappetant (not wanting to eat).
Left untreated Lyme Disease can progress to severe arthritis. In some animals it can also cause fatal heart or kidney damage.
One of the first things to do if you suspect that you pet may have contracted Lyme Disease is to have a veterinarian examine him. A sample of blood can be tested in the laboratory and the results are normally available quickly. If your pet has a positive Lyme test, then treatment can begin immediately. Treatment with antibiotics can normally relieve arthritis like symptoms and ward off more dangerous complications.
The BEST DEFENSE IS PREVENTION! Keep your pet tick free with products like Frontline, Advantix, Vectra, or Preventic collars for dogs. Avoid high grass and brushy areas that are breeding grounds for ticks, and most importantly vaccinate your dog annually.