How Ticks Transmit Lyme Disease to Dogs and Cats
Several species of ticks carry Lyme disease, including the American dog tick, black-legged (deer) tick, brown tick, and the Rocky Mountain tick. Some of these species are so tiny that you cannot see them, even when they are fully engorged with your pet's blood. Since these ticks require blood to survive and reproduce, they bite the host animal and can remain lodged in the body. The bacteria that causes Lyme disease is transmitted through the tick's saliva.
A tick needs to remain attached to the animal for at least 48 hours for Lyme disease transmission to occur. Fortunately, many drop off after they feed and before they can infect the animal with Lyme disease. Another positive is that only a small percentage of dogs end up developing the disease even when the tick remained on their bod past 48 hours. The disease is rare in cats. Pets that do develop Lyme disease typically do not show any symptoms for two to five months.
Recognizing Lyme Disease in Your Pet
Be sure to check your pet daily for ticks, especially if you live in a wooded or rural area. Due to their tiny size, you need to run your fingers down your pet's back and tail as well as check her underside. It’s essential to check the head and ears since these are the most common areas for ticks to lodge. If you find one, pull it out with a pair of tweezers and place it in a jar of rubbing alcohol to kill it. The most common symptoms of Lyme disease in companion animals include fever between 103 and 105 degrees, lethargy, loss of appetite, joint swelling and stiffness, swollen lymph nodes, lameness, and frequently shifting weight between legs.
The easiest way to prevent your pet from developing this disease is to keep ticks away from him. We recommend Bravecto flea and tick prevention for dogs, which is available in our online store. This comes in the form of a chew that you only have to remember to give four times a year. Ticks die when ingesting the Bravecto and fall off your pet's body. We also carry several flea and tick options for cats in our online store. Lastly, be sure to discuss the possibility of getting the Lyme disease vaccine with Dr. Palmquist. He will evaluate your pet's lifestyle and risk factors to determine if the vaccine would be appropriate.
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