Just as you probably thought, pets can contract Lyme disease the same way humans do; from the bite of a tick infected with the Lyme bacteria. Each region carries different tick species and different climates affect the overall risk. Ticks are like little vampires – they ‘vant to suck your blood’! They literally live by sucking blood from hosts, such as your dog or cat, and without it they will die. So, you can say it’s literally their life mission to attach to and bite anything with blood. Don’t let that be your precious pet!
If you’ve been outside in the spring you’ve likely seen some species of tick in the grass or plants. Sometimes there can even be thousands depending on where you are. Ticks start off as eggs and once the eggs hatch a larvae is developed and then a nymph. While in the growth stage they will feed on smaller animals to gain strength. As an adult, the ticks will become very pesky and get themselves to the tip of grass, plants or anything that will give them the ability to easily jump on an animal that walks by. Ticks use their legs to “sense” when a dog, person, or any other animal is nearby. Ticks “wave” their legs in a motion called questing, which allows the tick to both sense the animal and “hitch” a ride. Once on an animal they work hard to get through the fur to the skin where they attach and then bite and feed on the animal’s blood. If the tick that has attached itself to your pet is infected with the Lyme bacteria, then the disease is transmitted at this stage. The highest risk of being bitten occurs in the spring and summer, but bites can occur year-round.
WHICH TICKS SPREAD LYME DISEASE?
Name: Blacklegged tick, also known as the “deer tick” or “bear tick”
Where it’s found: Northeast, mid-Atlantic and north-central United States
Name: Western Blacklegged Tick
Where it’s found: Pacific coast, primarily northern California
These tick species are primarily found in wooded areas, marshes and tall grasses.
Information from the Center for Disease Control.
Lyme disease is uncommon in cats and it is unlikely they will get infected with Lyme. However, ticks carry other diseases that affect cats, making prevention important.
You can protect your pet from Lyme disease. VIP Petcare clinics offer Lyme vaccines for dogs, and broad-spectrum preventive for both dogs and cats that can keep ticks away. Our veterinarians will be happy to answer any questions you have about Lyme disease during your visit to a clinic. If you have questions, feel free to visit our staff at a Community Clinic or Wellness Center near you.