Lyme Disease 

Lyme disease is a condition spread by ticks that can affect both pets and humans. This disease can significantly impact your pet’s health, and it’s essential to take some precautionary steps to keep your pet safe. 

At the Animal Hospital of Sullivan County, your pet’s health and safety are our top priority. We serve the Liberty, Monticello, Hurleyville, Loch Sheldrake communities. 

What is Lyme Disease? 

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria is carried by certain species of ticks and is transferred to your pet through the tick’s bite. Deer ticks are a common carrier of Borrelia burgdorferi and are found throughout our state.

Symptoms 

It is important to know what to look for and when to be concerned. Symptoms most commonly develop during the chronic stage of Lyme disease, which can occur 2-5 months after infection. The majority of pets who experience symptoms have generalized pain and discomfort. You may notice your pet moving a bit slower or that they are less interested in their normal activities. Some additional symptoms to look for include:

• Decreased appetite 

• Lameness

• Fever

• Lethargy

• Swollen lymph nodes 

• Joint swelling 

Lyme disease can also affect your pet’s kidneys, and some pets will experience decreased kidney function. Although this form of the disease is less common, it can be more challenging to treat.

If your pet is experiencing any concerning symptoms, please schedule an appointment to have your pet evaluated by our veterinary team.

Diagnosis and Treatment

 When you bring your pet in to be evaluated, our team will perform a thorough physical exam to assess your pet’s condition and determine the appropriate test for your pet. The most common test used for Lyme disease looks for the presence of Borrelia burgdorferi antibodies. A positive test tells us that your pet has been exposed, and their body has mounted an immune response. This test can be used if your pet is experiencing symptoms and is also a common part of your pet’s annual wellness exam.

Luckily, Lyme disease is treatable. Our veterinarians can prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection if your pet is diagnosed. Most pets will see an improvement in their symptoms within a few days of starting medication

Keeping Your Pet Safe 

You can take some simple steps to keep your pet safe and reduce their risk of exposure. This includes avoiding tick-infested areas, using tick preventatives, and vaccinating for Lyme disease. Below is some additional information about the benefits of each of these options. 

• Reduce Exposure 

 Avoid tall grasses and heavily wooded areas, which are often breeding grounds for ticks. Regularly check your pet for ticks. If you find a tick on your dog or cat, remove the tick as soon as possible. You can use tweezers to remove the tick safely. Before discarding the tick, make sure the tick is intact, and the mouthparts have been safely removed from your pet. 

After a tick exposure, monitor your pet over the next few weeks for any changes in behavior or potential symptoms.

• Tick Preventative 

If your pet spends any amount of time outside, it’s essential that they are on some form of tick preventative. The speed of tick kill is important for the prevention of disease transmission. If you have questions about which tick preventatives are best for your pet, our team is happy to provide guidance and create a plan to help keep your pet safe. 

• Vaccination 

. Because of the prevalence of Lyme disease in our area, our veterinarian highly recommends the Lyme vaccine for dogs. Your dog can receive their first dose as a puppy and will need a booster in 2-4 weeks from their initial shot. This helps build their immune system and keep them protected. After their initial series of Lyme vaccines, your pet will require an annual booster. 

If your pet is new to our area or you have questions about keeping them safe, we recommend scheduling an appointment. Our team can evaluate your pet’s level of protection and make recommendations to reduce your pet’s risk of disease. 

Final Thoughts 

. Taking the proper precautions can greatly reduce your pet’s disease risk and ensure their outdoor adventures remain healthy and safe.

Our team at the Animal Hospital of Sullivan County is proud to serve the Catskills of New York and will answer any additional questions you may have. If your pet is experiencing any symptoms or you would like to have them evaluated, please give us a call at 845-292-6711.  

Additional Sources:

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/disorders-affecting-multiple-body-systems-of-dogs/lyme-disease-lyme-borreliosis-in-dogs

https://www.vet.cornell.edu/animal-health-diagnostic-center/laboratories/serology-immunology/lyme-disease