How do I know if my pet has a tick-borne disease?

As pet owners we have a responsibility to know when our pet is feeling healthy, and when they aren’t. Since pets can’t talk to us, they signal with their body language and it can be quite obvious when something is wrong. Tick-borne diseases have their own set of symptoms to look for and a blood test can tell you if your dog has been exposed to common tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.

SYMPTOMS OF TICK-BORNE DISEASES:

  • Lyme: Infected dogs have a fever, are lethargic, have swollen joints, limping that comes and goes, and more.
  • Ehrlichiosis: Infected dogs will generally have a fever, respiratory issues, weight loss, and more.
  • Anaplasmosis: Infected dogs will show signs of lameness, fever, and will not have an appetite.

If you notice that your pet has any of these symptoms, we recommend writing them down and calling your full service veterinarian.

All of our Clinics and Wellness Centers offer a simple blood test that looks for both Lyme disease and heartworm disease. The test detects if your dog has been exposed to the three common tick-borne diseases listed above, not necessarily whether your pet has an active infection or that treatment is required. A positive test result shows that your pet has been exposed to an infected tick at some point in their life, or may have received a Lyme vaccine in the past. Due to the sensitivity of the test, a positive result may not mean your pet is sick or needs treatment. We always recommend following up with your full service veterinarian for more information if your pet receives a positive test result.

Test results usually come back within a week and if we notice a positive result or any abnormalities we will notify you by phone right away. If your pet’s test comes back negative, you will be notified by email or mail.

Lyme disease is uncommon in cats and it’s unlikely they will get infected, and therefore we do not offer a test for cats to check for Lyme disease. Ticks do, however, carry other diseases that affect cats so it’s still important to keep them safe with a tick preventive.

Once you visit us, we’ll remind you each year that it’s time to get another heartworm/Lyme combination blood test for your pooch. Nothing makes pet and owner happier than knowing there is another year of health ahead!

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.