Have you ever had a tick or know somebody who had one? Has your pet had a tick before? Do you know that ticks can transmit Lyme disease to pets and humans alike? Scary, right?

What is Lyme disease and how does it affect us, humans?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia which is transmitted through the tick’s bite. The longer the tick stays attached the higher the risk to get infected by an infected tick – just remember, not all ticks carry this bacterium. About 200 people are tested positive each year according to the HSE (https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/vectorborne/lymedisease/factsheet/, 01/04/2020).

Humans go through different phases of the disease and may show vague flu-like symptoms to meningitis, heart problems, arthritis, etc. More about this in humans can be found at https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/l/lyme-disease/

According to the HSE, only three-quarters of people develops the typical bull’s eye rash (erythema migrans) after a tick bite. In other words, if you get bitten by an infected tick and don’t develop this typical sign, don’t assume you haven’t contracted Lyme disease. Stay vigilant and look out for other symptoms. Call your GP if you are concerned. The HSE has a nice website about Lyme disease with all the relevant information you require. Check out https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/vectorborne/lymedisease/factsheet/.

Fortunately, Lyme disease can be treated.

Can my pet infect me with Lyme disease?

No, neither your pet nor you can transmit Lyme disease directly. However, if your pet has been diagnosed with Borreliosis, then contact your GP – after all, you might have got bitten by the tick as well; we don’t always notice it.

What about my pet?

In pets, we call Lyme disease Borreliosis. Cats rarely get infected compared to dogs. Pets are similarly affected and can show signs to fever, lack of appetite, painful or swollen joints, lameness that comes and goes, enlarged lymph nodes and lethargy. As it progresses, it can cause damage in the kidneys, nervous system and heart.

If you notice your pet developing these signs after a tick bite then let us know. Please keep in mind that the tick bite may have occurred months previously.

If we have any suspicion that your dog may have Borreliosis then we will recommend performing further tests.

Like in humans, pets can be treated with antibiotics. The prognosis is usually good. However, a few chronic cases of organ damage can be challenging.

What can I do for my pet?

  • Check yourself and your pet daily for ticks, especially after a walk through the fields or woods
  • Remove ticks immediately
  • Keep your lawn short
  • Use a veterinary-approved tick treatment to repel and kill attached ticks quickly all year round
  • Call your Vet/GP if you have any concerns