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K9 Lyme disease is a growing and dangerous threat- especially in the United States and Europe. And while countries such as Australia are largely free of this concern, disease-laden ticks are often brought to Lyme-free zones on animals from other countries; including household pets and livestock.
However, the fact of the matter is that any threat of Lyme disease- even a miniscule one- is worth some basic precautionary measures. But if your dog does contract Lyme disease, there are treatment options readily available.
K9 Lyme disease is a tick borne illness that can lead to a complex and difficult-to-diagnose set of symptoms that are progressive and in some cases, extremely debilitating. When a tick attaches to a host- normally deer or other mammals- the powerful jaws of this insect will drive through the skin in order to feed on blood. Ticks that are infected with certain types of the Borrelia genus bacteria pass this infection through the bloodstream when they bite a host.
Symptoms set in anywhere from several days to a month or more later and can include vomiting, diarrhea, lameness, pain and swelling in joints, walking with an arched back, hypersensitivity to touch, loss of appetite with accompanying weight loss and swelling in the lymph nodes and abdomen. Dogs that exhibit these symptoms should be treated by a veterinarian immediately.
As with all canine diseases, prevention is always the best practice. Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not climb very well and they do not have the physical ability to jump. Instead, they climb partway up short grasses or shrubberies and attach to mammals as they walk by. This means that ticks can be anywhere and it’s nearly impossible to tell when a dog has picked one up- unless you examine them closely.
The following are the best prevention measures for canine Lyme disease:
*Avoid tick-infested areas.
*Check your dog thoroughly after any possible exposure. This should be done by hand and with a comb, pushing the hairs back to see straight down to the skin. This is especially important because a tick usually must be engorged for at least 18 hours before transmission of canine Lyme disease occurs.
*Use tick repellants, topical or spot-on treatments and collars.
*Ask your veterinarian about getting your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease.
If your dog does contract Lyme disease, there are treatment options available but time is a critical factor. The earlier the disease is detected, the better your dog will respond to treatment with antibiotics. But as the disease progresses unchecked, it can lead to irreversible damage to the heart, kidney, liver and joints. This is why prevention is the best form of treatment possible for K9 Lyme Disease.
In Summary – You should be checking your dog for any signs of ill health on a DAILY basis. It only takes a minute or so but it’s critical.
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