News on Wellness

Pets Get Lyme Disease, Too


Most people associate Lyme disease risk with the peak of outdoor activity — the summer. Surprisingly, however, the spring may be the riskiest time for contracting Lyme disease, the tick-borne bacterial infection that has been linked to rash, arthritis-like symptoms, and neurological problems. And humans are not the only ones susceptible to the illness.
Pets can also be at risk for Lyme disease. Both adult ticks and immature ticks, called nymphs, can spread the disease.

In the spring, these adult ticks and nymphs aggressively feed. This means they are likely to seek humans and dogs walking through woods, parks or yards.

Most people think freezing weather will kill off ticks. Don’t be mistaken — ticks can survive the harshest of winters. They are like many species who ‘hibernate’ in the winter. When they come out in the spring, they are hungry and looking for a blood meal. You or your dog could be a tick’s next meal.

In the northeast — the area of the country where Lyme’s disease is most common – humans and their pets are at extra risk.

Symptoms in pets include pain in the legs or body, joint swelling, lethargy, or loss of appetite. Lyme disease can lead to arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, and neurological problems in animals.

To protect dogs it’s better for owners to stay on paths, away from tall grass or bushes, and that they understand that ticks can lurk even in mown areas — such as backyards.

Family members are encouraged to inspect their pets and each other for ticks when they have been outside. Pet-owners should consult their veterinarian for the best way to avoid Lyme disease in their dog or cat. Sprays, collars and dips may ward off ticks, and new vaccines are on the market to help prevent the disease in animals.

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