Pets Lyme disease is a very dangerous disease to your pet and it accounts for over 90% of all the vector-recorded illnesses.
The litany of symptoms and problems your pet will encounter with this disease range from pain and swelling and eventually arthritis if not treated, to the most severe cases which could cause kidney failure and sudden death. This disease is much more common in dogs than in cats, but because it has become so widespread, cats are also more at risk now than ever before.
This disease has been recorded in 49 of the 50 states as well as Scandinavia, all of Europe, the former Soviet Union, Japan, China, and Australia. In the United States, it is much more predominate on the Pacific Coast, the Midwest, and Atlantic Coast states. In these areas, over 75% of dogs and a growing number of cats are exposed to this disease.
With this disease, a vector illness simply means that any animal is capable of transmitting diseases that are carried by mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, mites, or rats, or more commonly, from host to host. The host in this case, is a tick referred to as Lxodes ticks.
This disease in your dog or cat is caused by spiral shaped bacteria refereed to as “Borrelia burgdorferi” or a spirochete. Although this is classified as a “zoonosis bacteria”, which means it is capable of transmitting a disease from an animal to humans, it is important to note that this disease cannot be transmitted from dog to dog, dogs to cats, or either pet to humans. In order for your dog or cat to catch this disease, the tick must have bitten your pet directly, and the tick than transmits the bacteria into the hosts (your dog or cat) bloodstream when it feeds on their blood.
The most common sign of this disease is arthritis, which in turn can cause pain in one, or in some cases, several of your pets joints. This can be followed by swollen lymph nodes, deep dehydration, mild to very high fevers, and a sudden loss of appetite. In severe cases of this disease, your pet’s kidney may start to fail, which may lead to the death of your pet, although this is very rare.
Humans will develop a skin rash that looks very similar to a “target” when infected, but this is rarely, if ever, seen in pets.
As with most in any disease that is carried by bacteria, the best preventive measures you can take as a pet owner, is in building up your pet’s immune system. In helping to prevent many of the issues caused by this disease, it is important to build your friends immune system over time. In the production of antibodies, your pets bodies utilize many of the B vitamin family, especially B6, in building up the immune system. The essential mineral zinc also plays a very important role in a robust immune system, as does Vitamin A, Bets-carotene, and vitamin E, because of its effectiveness as an anti-oxidant.
The bacteria that cause this disease live on mice, deer, and other small animals and are transmitted to your pet by the Lxodes ticks. Ticks are bloodsucking invaders of your pets, but it is also important to remember that ticks don’t cause the disease, they just spread the disease. While the actual bite of the tick to your pet is inconsequential and does them no harm, the bite carries viruses and or bacteria. Of the two families of ticks, the hard ticks and the soft ticks, the Lxodes tick (hard tick) is potentially more dangerous as it attaches to your pets for several days.
It is extremely important that you check you pet frequently, especially if they have been in wooded areas, as research has shown that ticks must be attached for at least 12 hours to actually cause harm to your pet.
Cats that have become infected with this disease may show symptoms of lameness, unusual breathing, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, and potential eye damage. However, many cats, although they are infected, show no symptoms at all.
Dogs infected with this disease, in some cases, are affected much more severely than cats. They may show symptoms after only a week of a very high fever between 103 to 105 degrees, as well as becoming very lethargic and may demonstrate a complete loss of appetite.
Dogs with this disease may also experience lameness and start shifting from one joint to the next, and they may also, in the severest of cases, experience kidney damage or failure, as well as heart disorders or neurological disorders such as aggression, confusion and even seizures. Or, they may show absolutely no symptoms at all, making this a very difficult disease to diagnose correctly.
Pets Lyme disease is also very difficult to diagnosis as it resembles several other bacteria caused diseases, and diagnosis is quite often made initially on the geographic area that your pet would live in as well as signs of arthritis. There is a blood test that will measure the antibodies to the amount of bacteria, but most dogs will naturally have a high reading, and a positive test indicates only that your pet may simply have been exposed to the disease.
Treating this disease early is extremely important as it can hide for extended periods in your pets bodies in clinically latent states. This is why your pet may have recurring symptoms that can happen in cycles and flare up after months, years, and in some cases, even decades.
Treatment of this disease, however, once diagnosed, responds very rapidly to antibiotics, and symptoms that do surface, will also regress very rapidly. If the disease remains untreated, it can and it most cases, does, become chronic.
Prevention is the best treatment, and protecting you pet from potentially tick infested areas, examining your pet thoroughly for ticks 2 to 3 times per week, providing them tick collars, and supplementing them properly to build their immune system, is recommended for all pet owners.
I am an avid lover of pets and my wife and I have had several pets throughout our years. We are especially fond of dogs, and we have a 12 year old Dalmatian (our 3rd) and a “mutt” that we rescued when someone threw him away to die in a vacant field.
He found us, nearly starved to death, and weighed about 2 pounds.
After severe bouts of mange and severe dehydration, and over 1,000.00 in veterinarian bills, we saved the little guys life, and he is one of the best, if not the best, dogs we have ever had and today is a muscular, fit, and firm 70 pound best friend.
After finishing my MBA, which at middle age was not easy, I decided to keep the research work ethics that I acquired, and devote about two hours each night in understanding the health benefits of supplementation for both humans and pets and how they might strengthen our, as well as our pets, immune system in a pre-emptive approach to health rather than a reactionary approach.
Both of my daughters are avid cat lovers, and asked me to help them with health concerns and challenges with their cats.
I am not a veterinarian nor claim to be, just a lover of pets that loves to research and pass on some knowledge that might be helpful, or at least stimulating to the thought process.
Several of the articles that I have written can be found on my website;