You may be at risk for Lyme disease this summer, so doctors are using the month of May to spread awareness. Veterinarians are also working with clients to help prevent their pets from flees, ticks and Lyme disease.
Utah isn’t known for having many cases of Lyme disease, according to the Center of Disease Control. Utahns are likely to take out-of-state vacations this summer and tourists come to Utah because the state attracts people and their pets for outdoor recreation.
“We’re going to areas of the country potentially that have high rates of Lyme disease, very heavy tick infestation,” said Mark Walder, a veterinarian working to keep pets and their owners healthy. “If you’re like me, many times you’re taking your pets with you. You may unknowingly be going in an area that has high rates of Lyme disease and if your pet is unprotected, they stand a very high likelihood of developing lime disease.”
Walder said with an uptick in Lyme disease rates, you don’t have to go to the mountains or a heavily wooded area to get fleas and ticks. Just going into your backyard puts your pet at risk, but you don’t want to keep your pets inside all summer.
“One of the best things you can do is get your pet on a preventative,” Walder said. “That’s critically important. They need to be on a flea and tick prevention.”
So, how do you know if your pet already has Lyme disease?
“Initially the signs can be very mild, it could be anything from a change in their mood, loss of appetite, they can be stiff-legged or lameness issues, they can become depressed,” Walder said. “If left undiagnosed and untreated that can progress in a more serious disease what we call the chronic form where it can lead into organ disease such as kidney disease.”
Walder said pet owners should consult with a veterinarian to prevent and treat Lyme disease.
“That veterinarian knows outside of you as the pet mom and dad, the unique needs of your pet,” Walder said. “They can make the best recommendation. In our practice, we recommend preventative, year-round preventatives.”