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May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month in the USA. We think that it is a good idea to be aware of the basic facts about this preventable disease, wherever you live in the world. So we have put together some answers to common questions. We hope you will find them interesting and useful.

Ticks Cause Lyme Disease Don’t They?

No, ticks do not cause Lyme disease! Certain ticks carry the disease and can then transmit it to a person dog or other mammal, when they feed on their blood.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease can affect dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacteria lives in the gut of the black-legged tick, known as the deer tick because it is most often found on deer. Because our dogs love exploring every blade of grass and every tree on their walks, they are more likely to be bitten by an infected tick. Interestingly they are much less likely to become sick with Lyme disease. Only 10% of dogs bitten, actually develop Lyme disease.

What is a Tick?

A tick is a bug with 8 legs from the spider family. They are extremely small, ranging from the size of a grain of sand to the size of a sesame seed. It is the Black-legged tick that is mainly responsible for the transmission of the bacteria responsible for Lyme disease. They prefer to hide in shady, moist ground, but they can be also found above ground, clinging to tall grass and shrubs. Ticks carrying Lyme disease can now be found across Europe

Is Lyme Disease Contagious?

No. Lyme Disease is an inflammatory disease that is transmitted by infected ticks. It is not contagious.

Can Cat’s get Lyme Disease?

Cat’s of course get bitten by the same ticks that carry Lyme disease. They can also become infected with the Borrelia bacteria and can test positive on certain tests for Lyme disease. However, there is no conclusive evidence that cats suffer from Lyme disease. They seem to have a natural resistance to this type of bacteria. As there are many cat diseases that have similar symptoms to those of Lyme disease it can lead to confusion when answering this question.

What are the Symptoms of Lyme Disease?

Only 10% of dogs bitten by infected ticks develop the disease. Once ill, dogs can become feverish and lame in one or more joints. They also may become sluggishness, and their lymph nodes may swell. A rarer and more serious form of the disease that affects the kidneys is often fatal.

Dogs may not show signs of illness for weeks or months after an infected tick bites them. Many dogs that are infected never show signs of illness. Your vet can test for Lyme disease with a blood tests which looks for antibodies to the bacteria that cause the disease. It is however a difficult disease to diagnose.

Is there a Danger of Lyme Disease All Year Round?

Contrary to common belief, ticks are not only a problem in summer. They are active at temperatures above 7deg. C, so even on a warmer winter day your dog is at risk. Unless temperatures fall below zero for a prolonged period, ticks do not die and so resume their activity as soon as a warmer day comes along.

How Do You Treat Lyme Disease?

If your dog is diagnosed with Lyme disease, then treatment can include antibiotics for several weeks. This will generally resolve most symptoms, but they can recur.  Your vet may also prescribe a pain reliever if your dog seems to be experiencing any pain or stiffness.

How Can You Prevent Lyme Disease?

The best way for your dog to avoid Lyme disease is to avoid tick bites.

Following these simple steps will help.

  1. Use an approved tick treatment regularly in accordance with the manufacturers advise. Remember that there is no tick “season”. You should be vigilant all year round when the temperature is above 7 deg.C. and should not just use anti tick treatments during the summer months.
  2. Remember that tick treatments only kill the tick when it bites your dog, which may be too late. Once your dog is bitten it can get the disease whether or not the tick is dead! Brush your dog outside after each walk to remove any ticks on his coat and check regularly for ticks that may have already buried down into the fur.
  3. Don’t forget to check yourself regularly as well. Ticks tend to hide in moist, dark areas like underarms etc.
  4. Finally check your floors and furnishings and vacuum regularly as ticks can drop from your dog and hide in floor cracks etc.

Is there a Vaccine Against Lyme Disease?

Yes, there is, but vets are divided about whether it is effective and also whether it is safe. It is generally accepted that tick bite prevention is a safer and more effective way to protect against the disease.

 

How Can the Woof Club Help You?

We hope that we have provided you with a useful set of answers to common questions about Lyme disease. We would love to hear your comments! If you have any  more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us by submitting a form online or by emailing us at woof@thewoofclub.ch.

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