PLEASE SHARE TO MAKE AWARE!
May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and National Pet Month!
Our pets are members of our families. We treat them as our children, and some of us have them instead of children! Our pets give us unconditional love and provide comfort to us. Pets improve our lives and health in many ways. They can provide therapy and comfort as well as allow the disabled to live more independently. They even force us lazy humans and Lymies to exercise. I do not feel guilty about me not walking, but even on bad days I would try to walk my dog. Numerous studies prove how our pets provide stress relief with their funny (though sometimes irritating) antics! I lost my 3 fur babies (ages 14-21 years) last year. I still struggle to want to walk without my dog Trouble today and miss my cats Stormy and Summer when I try to relax. I often find myself talking to no one in my empty house as they use to be my sounding boards.
May is both Lyme Disease Awareness Month and National Pet Month. So, it is a good time to share accurate information on how our lives, our pets and fuc#$%g ticks lives collide in dangerous ways. New research shows that Lyme Disease can be contracted many ways, including pregnancy. Many animals carry both the ticks and the spiral shaped Lyme bacteria from hell including mice, livestock, birds, and other insects but it is our beloved companions that put themselves and us at the greatest risk. Dogs, cats and horses can contract the same debilitating tick-borne diseases that we can including Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Spotted Mountain Fever, Tick Paralysis and more. There are many new ticks and related illnesses being discovered daily, such as the potentially fatal Powassan Virus in Mass and the invasive East Asian or Longhorned tick in New Jersey.
Out animals are outside more and are often laying and playing on the ground. My grand fur baby Rosie has a fetish for rocks and could possibly dig to China one day trying to dig them all out of the yard! Dogs and cats roll in the grass and leaves and go into bushes where ticks need the contact to attach to them. If you live in an endemic region, your pet lives in an endemic region. All US states and most countries have infected tick populations. You are not safe in urban communities either as mosquitos and fleas can also transmit tick hell. Research shows that 41% of healthy cats carry the KNOWN Bartonella strains and dogs are over 50% more likely to contract Lyme than humans. In fact, dogs are such effective tick radar devices that there are canine maps that track the level of disease and risk to you and your pets around the country. You can access this up to date map at Madlymies.com in the Resource tab.
Prevention and early detection are your only weapons to avoid late stage tick misery. As for prevention, I have found that Frontline worked well to keep the ticks of my pets. There are other brands, but you need to be sure that the medicine kills and repels both fleas, mosquitos and ticks of all stages. You also need to be sure to buy the package that corresponds to your pet’s weight. There is also a Lyme vaccine series for dogs that research shows is somewhat effective. However, nothing can replace daily tick checks and immediate removal of the dick ticks! I pay to have my yards treated now monthly with mosquito and tick spray and my son got Rosie the vaccines and treats with tick meds. We STILL found a bullseye rash (see all photos in WTF is Happening….Madlymies.com). As for protecting yourself, you basically need to be covered from head to toe in clothing and DEET and complete self-tick checks. You also must be aware of your animals in your space to check for ticks-ESPECIALLY IF THEY SLEEP WITH YOU!
Given that we know no prevention is 100% effective, early detection and treatment is critical to the treatment of tick diseases for both you and your pets! You can not use a bullseye rash as your only warning indicator as up to 50% of people do not get rashes. Dogs and people who are lucky enough to get the rash (cats not so much) may have it under fur or on their backside like my husband did and never see it. So, it is best to know the early symptoms of these illnesses and get treated as soon as possible. Remember, test results, especially early tests, are WRONG up to half the time so you must get you or your pet treated regardless of negative tests results or you will miss the opportunity to avoid late stage Lyme hell. For the symptoms of Lyme in humans at all stages, see my narrated video power point explanation and photos at Madlymies.com in the Resources and WTF tabs.
As for your furry friends, they can also experience late stage chronic Lyme as well if not treated early enough. The biggest sign to watch for in dogs is recurrent lameness of the joints that can come and go and shift legs. They will walk with a stiff gait and arched back due to inflammation and pain. They can have a fever, be sensitive to touch with swollen joints, lack an appetite and seem depressed. Untreated Lyme in dogs can lead to kidney disease and more, especially in Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Shetland Sheepdogs and Bernese Mountain Dogs (Petmed.com). Research clearly shows that ONE TICK BITE CAN TRANSMIT MANY DISEASES AND PARASITES to humans. I am making an educated guess that the same holds true for dogs, especially puppies who are known to have weaker immune systems. So, watch for signs of parasites as well in your pet’s stools. (Wait for it…..pictures in Madlymies.com Pet Resources.)
Your feline fur babies will exhibit the same symptoms for Lyme Disease. They are also susceptible to Babesiosis and Anaplasmosis like canines and humans. They are MORE apt to get Tularemia and Bartonella than dogs. Hemobartonellosis will attack the cat’s red blood cells like Babesia does and cause severe anemia, lethargy, pale gums, lack of appetite, and rapid and open mouth breathing. They can also get Feline Infectious Anemia and the newly known, often fatal Cytanxzoonosis which occurs in bobcat ranges and more often in the south central and southeast regions of the US. Like our dogs, cats can carry many parasites such as tapeworms. Cats can also easily transmit these illnesses to their human slaves through a scratch or love bite.
I am working on the pet resources mentioned in this blog and more updates throughout the site so check back often. Since my partner in Lyme is down this week and we could not podcast, I wanted to get the word out about our furry friends ASAP. We would LOVE you (actually, I am begging you LOL) to FOLLOW our website by clicking the Follow Us link. All you do is give your email so you can be notified of posts, blogs etc. The more followers we have, the more we can SHARE to make AWARE! Thanks so much and PLEASE take CARE!!!
In loving memory of our Trouble. 🙂