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Take a Bite out of Lyme!

Lyme disease is an illness that affects both animals and humans, also called a zoonotic disease. Lyme disease is transmitted through deer tick bites. It can be difficult to detect and can cause serious recurring health problems. It is best to prevent infection by taking appropriate measures to prevent tick bites and, for dogs, possibly vaccinating against the disease.


People or animals may be bitten by deer ticks during outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or even while spending time in their own back yards. In Vermont and New Hampshire, 1 out of 7 dogs tested is positive for Lyme disease. In 2016, at Claremont Animal Hospital, 1 out of 4 dogs tested is positive for Lyme disease.


The best way to protect your pets from Lyme disease is to take preventive measures to reduce the chance of contracting the disease. Lyme disease isn't the only disease that can be transmitted through tick bites - anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis can also be concerning. These diseases have similar clinical symptoms to Lyme disease making them very difficult to tell apart. Preventive measures include vaccinating your dog against Lyme disease, utilizing monthly flea and tick preventatives year round, and creating a tick-safe zone in your yard. When possible, avoid areas where ticks might be found like tall grasses, marshes, and wooded areas. Always do a tick check on both yourself and your animals once indoors.


It is also important to remember that tick exposure is not just a spring, summer, and fall problem. Any temperatures above freezing can be warm enough for ticks to thrive. This means that even in the winter, your pet can be at risk of tick bites that can potentially transmit Lyme disease.


At your next appointment, be sure to ask us about getting your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease and which tick preventative to use year round! There are many options for preventatives to fit your lifestyle and preferences! Lyme vaccinations for your dog start with an initial vaccination followed by a booster 3-4 weeks later and annual boosters after that.


Lyme Disease in Pets - Symptoms and Treatment

Pets infected with Lyme disease may not show any signs for 2-5 months. After that time, typical symptoms can include: fever, lameness, especially shifting leg lameness, joint swelling, joint pain, decreased activity, and loss of appetite. Did you know that Lyme disease can affect horses, too? Horses with Lyme disease can develop lameness, joint pain, neurologic disease, eye problems, and dermatitis.


Lyme disease is diagnosed through a blood test performed at our hospital that shows whether your animal has been exposed to the bacterium or not. In some cases, additional tests may be sent out to obtain a more exact numerical value differentiating between active infection and non-active infection.


Antibiotics usually provide effective treatment for Lyme disease. Protective Lyme vaccinations can be resumed or started after an antibiotic course of treatment in positive animals. Lyme disease is not transferrable from one animal to another, expect through tick bites.


Lyme Disease is a "One Health" problem

Because people and their pets often spend time in the same environments where Lyme disease transmitting ticks are found, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are working together to offer advice to households with both children and pets. Physicians and veterinarians should be consulted if anyone in your household (animal or human) has been diagnosed with Lyme disease.


Thousands of cases of Lyme disease have been reported in humans and animals across the United States. By knowing about Lyme disease and how to prevent it, you can help keep all members of your family - human and animal - safe and help us take a Bite out of Lyme!


For more information:

Companion Animal Parasite Council

The American Veterianry Medical Association

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The American Academy of Pediatrics