Lyme Disease

28 Sep


Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness named after the town of Lyme, Connecticut, where in 1975 an outbreak of unusual arthritic symptoms in adults and children drew the public’s attention. Seven years later, scientists finally isolated the bacterium (Borrelia burgdorferi) that causes Lyme disease, which can affect pets as well as people.

Ticks are slow-moving insects in the arachnid family. They can acquire Borrelia burgdorferi any time they feed on the blood of animals or humans, which happens once during each stage of the tick’s life cycle – and each stage of that cycle poses a threat. Although adult ticks have a larger chance of carrying the disease, nymph ticks can be as small as a poppy seed and are easily overlooked, which increases the opportunity for infection. Deer ticks are the most common culprit for carrying Lyme disease. They usually live for about two years, but will not survive a very cold winter.

If you notice a deer tick on your pet, carefully remove the insect by If you notice a tick on your pet, carefully remove the insect with tweezers or with a tick-removing device (available online). Don’t use your fingers. Grab the tick right where it enters the skin. Do not squeeze the fat part of the tick’s body. Pull firmly and steadily, without twisting.

Despite popular opinion, the use of petroleum jelly, a hot match or alcohol will not cause the tick to ‘back out.’ In fact, these irritants may cause the tick to deposit more disease-carrying saliva in the wound. After removing the tick, put it into a jar of alcohol to kill it. Ticks are not killed by flushing them down the toilet.

Clean the wound with soap and water, then apply Calendula cream. Disinfect the tweezers, and consider keeping a designated pair in your pet’s first aid kit. Be sure to wash your hands, too.

Welts or swelling might appear after tick removal, but the homeopathic remedy Ledum 6C can help to relieve the pet’s skin irritation. In some cases, the bite might leave a permanent scar or hairless patch.

According to the CDC, Lyme disease needs about 24 hours to transmit, so it’s very important to check your pet thoroughly and regularly, especially if you live in a high-risk area with woods, leafy plants or tall grass. I recommend checking your pet every day. Check in their ears, around the pads of their feet, and especially in skin folds and creases. Even if your pet’s coat is short, you should still run your hands through the animal‘s fur and not rely just on a visual check.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include stiffness, swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite, fever, lameness, swollen or painful joints, and potentially even renal failure.

The very best prevention is to keep your pet healthy. A strong, healthy immune system reduces the chances of contracting a tick-borne illness. Maintain a proper diet for your pet, provide him with adequate exercise and educate yourself about over-vaccinating. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your pet won’t contract Lyme disease. If you notice a tick on your pet, or the symptoms of Lyme disease, seek advice from your veterinarian.

If your pet does show symptoms of Lyme disease, there are several homeopathic remedies you may want to use while waiting for your vet’s advice. Aconitum Napellus 30C is beneficial if given during the first stages of the disease, when a fever is present. If your pet is lying very still and crying out at any movement, then the remedy Bryonia 30C may help to ease the pain. Additionally, the remedy Rhus Tox 30C is wonderful for a pet with stiffness and joint pain. This remedy is appropriate for when the pet’s joints seem to limber up after he moves around. The herb Echinacea is a natural immune booster. It’s available in a capsule form and can be placed directly in your pet‘s mouth or added to their food. The recommended dose is ¼ of the human dose for dogs under 20 lbs., ½ the human dose for dogs between 20-50 lbs., and a whole human dose for dogs over 50 lbs. Continue this dosage for five days.

One of my favorite home remedies is to mix ½ water and ½ apple cider vinegar into a gallon container and then use the mixture as a “tick dip” for your pet. Completely saturate the animal, but don’t let any of the liquid drip into his eyes. Allow your pet to drip dry. He may smell like a saltand-vinegar potato chip for a few days, but the results will be worth it! Your pet’s coat will be soft and shiny, and you won’t find a tick on them for months. When I lived in Massachusetts, where ticks are prevalent, I’d apply just a single application of this dip to my dogs in May and wouldn’t find a tick on them until October.

Written by:  Brenda M. Tobin-Flood, Cert. C.N.

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With a background in Animal Science, Animal Nutrition, and Natural Health, I can help you to create a holistic wellness plan for your animal companions.  Does your pet have an acute or chronic disease? I use natural curative treatments such as homeopathy, herbs and essential oils.  Have any questions, or to schedule an appointment,  email


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