The PDSA is urging pet owners to be on their guard afterseeing a 150 per cent increase in suspected cases ofLyme disease – a painful, disabling condition which can affect bothhumans and animals.
Lyme disease is transmitted by a tick bite that carries the bacterium Borrelia burgdorfei. It can spread to humans, dogs and cats, plus some other species. Symptoms include a rash, fever, lameness and fatigue as well swollen lymph glands and nerve damage.
The 150 per cent increase has been seen over the past three years at PDSA’s PetAid hospitals nationwide, and the charity is advising pet owners to cover up when in woods or long grass – and to check their pets after walks for signs of ticks.
Senior veterinary surgeon Elaine Pendlebury said: “The number of suspected cases of Lyme disease in dogs and cats is just the tip of the iceberg, in my opinion. Pet owners may not consult their vet as they are often unaware of the dangers of tick bites and that an infected pet may need early antibiotic treatment.
“It is essential that owners are aware of the dangers of ticks, particularly during the summer months, because both you and your pet could be affected. Tick bites can be difficult to detect as they are relatively painless but symptoms of the infection can develop months, even years, after the tick bite.
“One way for owners to reduce the risk of Lyme disease in pets is to use tick control products as recommended or prescribed by their vet. They should also check their dogs for ticks regularly after a walk, and immediately consult their vet if their dog shows any of the signs of Lyme disease.
“When a pet has been in woods or long grass, owners should check the fur, using rubber gloves, as an infected tick can bite both the pet and the human. If an owner does find ticks on their pet then their vet can safely remove it and also give advice on how an owner could effectively do this in the future.”
According to PDSA, the number of people being diagnosed with Lyme disease in the UK has also steadily risen over the past 10 years. With this in mind, the charity suggests that owners should wear long-sleeved tops and full-length trousers and, after a walk, a person should check their armpits, groin, belly button, neck and head for ticks.
For further information, visit www.lymediseaseaction.org.uk.