Vail pets: Lyme disease is rare, but be aware |

Vail pets: Lyme disease is rare, but be aware

Nadine Lober
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado “-Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in humans and animals, though it’s rare in Vail Valley.

About 90 percent of Lyme disease occurs in the northeastern U.S., though it also is found in the Midwest and West, including Colorado. Different species of deer ticks are responsible for causing Lyme disease in different parts of the US.

The tick’s saliva carries the disease and infestation occurs through a tick bite. The strength of a pet or human’s immune system will dictate how severe the disease will be. If your pet’s immune system is weakened due to some other problem or old age, then he may get very sick.

Once a tick has bitten a dog, it takes two to five months for symptoms such as fever, shifting leg lameness, enlarged lymph nodes, anorexia and depression to show up. The limping may last for three or fours days but can be treated with antibiotics. Joints may be warm, swollen and painful and sometimes the kidneys are also affected.

Diagnosis is made by the typical symptoms, and a laboratory test. This test is an immunological test using the blood of the affected pet. Still, Lyme disease can be a challenge to diagnose. There are other tick diseases to differentiate from, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

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Treatment used for Lyme disease is usually a four- week course of antibiotics. The antibiotics may not eliminate persistent infections but do significantly improve clinical signs. Anti-inflammatories are used sparingly because you do not want to mask the signs of the disease. Improvement occurs usually within a few days of treatment.

Avoidance is the best approach to Lyme disease. Tick prevention is warranted in infested areas of the country. Our Valley has seen very few infected pets, and usually these pets have come here from the Eastern states. There is a vaccine against Lyme disease, and there are a few great products to prevent ticks on your pet.

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