Dogs and outdoor cats are at risk of developing Lyme disease when they spend time outdoors in affected areas. Ticks typically catch a ride on pets’ fur after they pass through grassy, wooded or sandy areas.
Pet parents can also be infected with Lyme disease, but only through a tick bite – you cannot catch Lyme disease directly from your pet!
“Walking on eggshells,” or lameness
Loss of appetite
Symptoms of Lyme disease may appear and disappear suddenly or recur over a period of time. Difficulty walking has been described as “walking on eggshells,” and may affect a variety of limbs.
Your vet will perform two blood tests to diagnose Lyme disease. An antibody test is done to determine the presence of antibodies in the bloodstream, which indicates an infection. However, this test can’t diagnose what infection your pet has. This is where the second test comes in – a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Fluid may be taken from a joint for best results, which is analyzed at the DNA level.
After an outdoor excursion, thoroughly check your pet for any ticks! Wear a pair of thick gloves and long sleeves to avoid being bit yourself. Ticks can be as small as a pinhead, so use a flashlight for best results. If you find a tick, remove it immediately using a pair of tweezer. Avoid crushing the tick or partially removing it – bacteria can enter the skin through any open wound or cut.
Over-the-counter tick control medications are widely available, either in collar or
A vaccine for Lyme disease is also available. If you live in an area where ticks are endemic and spend tons of time outdoors, consider vaccinating your pet! Talk to your vet about the Lyme disease vaccine.
Blood tests usually run around $80, depending on the methods used. Pet parents also must pay the vet exam fee, which is $40 to $50 and not covered by pet insurance.