Every year, numerous pets and people get bitten by ticks whilst enjoying their summer adventures – ouch! Not only do tick bites cause irritation and discomfort but ticks also carry nasty infections, which they can pass onto both people and pets, via their saliva, as they feed. This includes the Borrelia bacterium, which causes Lyme disease in humans and pets.
What’s all the fuss about Lyme disease?
Lyme disease, if left untreated, can be life-threatening for those pets affected. Therefore, getting the right treatment for your pet, early, is vital. However, this is easier said than done, as Lyme disease comes in many guises and affects individual pets differently. Consequently, some pets will show no-to-few signs of illness, whereas other pets will be debilitated by this disease and display severe signs of illness.
To further complicate matters, it’s not uncommon for infected pets to only start displaying signs of infection up to 4 weeks after they were bitten by an infected tick. This is because the bacteria often remain for some time in the affected pet’s skin, before working their way into your pet’s body and causing systemic signs of disease.
Can both cats and dogs get Lyme disease?
Although Lyme disease can affect both dogs and cats, our feline friends are less susceptible and more able to fight off this nasty infection. This means that cats rarely show signs of illness unless they have a weakened immune system (e.g. kittens and elderly cats).
So, how can I tell if my pet has Lyme disease?
The key to successful treatment of Lyme disease is to spot it as early as possible, which can be difficult as it causes a whole spectrum of ‘vague’ and non-specific symptoms, which vary in severity from pet to pet. However, one of the earliest signs noted by owners of pets affected by Lyme disease, is that they seem ‘off colour’ or ‘not quite themselves’. Those affected may also display any combination of the following symptoms:
• Lameness (this can affect one or multiple limbs)
• A reduction in their food intake or reluctance to eat
• Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes
• It can also affect the kidneys, heart and nervous system (in some cases).
If you are concerned that your pet may have Lyme disease, it’s best to seek veterinary attention ASAP.
How can I protect my pet from getting infected in the first place?
You can take the following easy steps to help keep your pet safe from Lyme disease, including:
- Stay up-to-date with your tick treatment by applying a FRONTLINE® flea and tick product regularly all year round.
- Check your pet for ticks daily during the summer, particularly after walks, and especially if you are holidaying/visiting areas of the UK known to be tick hot-spots (e.g. the New Forest, Exmoor, the South Downs, the Lake District, the Scottish Highlands).
- If you do spot a tick on your pet, remove it safely and ASAP. The best way to do this is by using a tick remover, such as the FRONTLINE Pet Care Tick Remover. Do wear gloves, as if an infected tick bites you, it is possible for you to become infected and develop Lyme disease too.
- Dispose of any ticks that you remove from your pet carefully by placing them in a sealable plastic bag. This will prevent them from attaching to you, your family or another pet in the family.
So, enjoy the great outdoors, and make sure you help keep your family and furry ones healthy, by applying a FRONTLINE ® flea and tick treatment regularly and checking your pet frequently for any blood-thirsty ticks.
FRONTLINE Plus contains fipronil and (S)-methoprene. UK: NFA-VPS. FRONTLINE Spot On contains fipronil. UK: AVM-GSL. Further information available in the SPC or from Merial Animal Health Ltd, RG12 8YS, UK. FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2018 Merial Animal Health Ltd. All rights reserved. Merial is now part of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group of Companies. Date of preparation: Jun 2018. PE2593. Use Medicines Responsibly.