"Lyme disease is treatable in 85 percent of the cases," said Dr. Steven Levy, a Durham veterinarian and president and founder of the American Veterinary Lyme Disease Society.
Like humans, household pets - dogs and cats - can become infected with the disease after deer ticks take up residence on their bodies for an extended period of time.After a romp outside, whether in the woods or not, a pet's hairy coat can attract ticks and embed themselves into the skin, transferring a bacteria into the animal and causing a Lyme disease infection.
Animals with the disease can present a variety of symptoms.The most common signs of Lyme disease in dogs are recurrent arthritis and lameness that lasts for only three to four days, sometimes with a loss of appetite and depression.Dog owners should be aware of these warning signs: sudden occurrence of lameness, reluctance to move or a stiff, painful gait; warm, swollen joints; pain in the legs or throughout the body; fever; fatigue; loss of appetite; and swollen lymph nodes.
Deer ticks are not solely as small as a pinhead, Levy
said.Depending on their maturity stage, deer ticks can appear larger from being engorged with blood.
The test - which is a combined, triple-screen blood test to also detect heartworm and the tick-transmitted ehrlichiosis, a blood disease which attacks a dog's immune system - is approved for dogs but Levy
is currently also using it on cats for research purposes.Levy's preliminary data indicates that it does detect Lyme disease on felines as well.
The test does not determine whether or not an animal has Lyme disease, vets agreed; it determines whether or not the animal has been exposed to the disease.It can take up to six weeks for exposure to show up as a positive test result.
The only way to determine if an animal has Lyme disease is if it tests positive, other conditions are ruled out and Lyme disease symptoms occur.
uses the Lyme disease vaccine LymeVax, which is currently touted as 95 percent effective, he
said.Levy's practice has seen a significant reduction in Lyme disease cases since using the vaccine in his