Lyme disease can affect both humans and animals, which means, like you, your household pets are also at risk of contracting Lyme disease. Besides humans, Lyme disease most commonly affects dogs, horses, and occasionally, cattle.
Several non-domesticated animals can contract Lyme disease, including raccoons, opossums, gray squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and white-tailed deer.
As for cats, they can technically contract the Lyme disease bacteria, but the only cats diagnosed with Lyme disease were in a laboratory setting.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Pets
Diagnosing Lyme disease in humans and pets alike requires a blood test that your pet’s veterinarian can perform. Symptoms you may note that may indicate your pet has Lyme disease include:
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased activity
- Joint swelling
A horse with Lyme disease may, in addition to lameness, present joint pain, eye problems, dermatitis, and neurologic disease.
However, be aware that a pet may not present any Lyme disease symptoms for two to five months after contracting the disease.
Treatment for Lyme Disease in Pets
Antibiotics are generally effective in treating Lyme disease in pets and humans alike.
Lyme disease is not contagious between humans and animals or animals and one another; the only way Lyme disease can be transmitted is through a tick bite.
Likewise, suppose you have a pet diagnosed with Lyme disease. In that case, you may want to get tested yourself, as well as everyone else in your household, as the same tick that infected your pet may have bitten you or another household member as well.
How to Protect Your Pets From Lyme Disease
The best way to protect your dog against Lyme disease is to protect your pet from tick bites altogether in the first place. To prevent tick bites, have your pet wear a flea and tick collar or treat your pet regularly with effective flea and tick preventive treatment. In addition, check your animals for ticks every time they have been outdoors.
This isn’t the end of it, though, as you can also transmit ticks to your pets every bit as much as they can transmit ticks to you. Therefore, you must also wear an effective tick repellent every time you go outdoors in nature, including your backyard, during tick season, and check yourself carefully for ticks every time you come back inside.