Stay tuned all month as we cover how Lyme affects dogs, cats, and people, and how you can be better prepared.
The Most Compelling Stories and Best Information About Lyme on the Web
Know someone with Lyme disease and want to learn more about the condition? Concerned you or your pet may be susceptible to, or affected by, the health problem? This Lyme Disease Awareness Month, we’re sharing some of the best resources we’ve found for people and pets on preventing, treating, and living better with the condition.
1. Amy Tan’s Personal Essay About Living with Lyme Disease: If you want to know “if Lyme is in the area: ask a veterinarian,” Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, writes in a piece for Byliner.com about her personal struggle with debilitating symptoms. “They know more about Lyme than most doctors I’ve met.” Along the way from getting infected through a years-long search for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, she worked with many specialists—all pointing to a variety of causes, but it wasn’t until she found a “Lyme literate” doctor that her health problem and associated symptoms—including aches, pain, flu-like issues, anxiety, and memory loss—could be addressed in a meaningful way.
2. Under Our Skin Documentary: Exploring why the disease—and its symptoms and treatments—are so misunderstood and misrepresented by the healthcare industry, this film follows the personal experiences of patients with the condition and shares insights from leaders in the medical profession who actually do understand Lyme. The stories—all true and deeply personal—share the following unfortunate commonalities: a struggle to have symptoms and the severity of the symptoms believed, identified, and treated. If the film hits close to home—particularly for those in the community for whom an earlier accurate detection of Lyme could have prevented or reduced the amount of suffering—the documentary also has a Facebook page that is an online hub for those in the Lyme community.
3. Lyme Disease App (iOS, free): From the American Lyme Disease Foundation, this app’s main benefit to pets and their people is the interactive map that, using your geographic location, denotes the incidence of infected ticks in your area—from none to abundant. There are also brief guides to preventing Lyme disease, indentifying ticks, removing ticks, and understanding what ticks look like after varying lengths of attachment (this is key as infection is linked to the length of time a tick has been attached).
4. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation Guide to Canine Tick-Borne Diseases: Lyme is one of many diseases dogs can catch from ticks. The American Kennel Club gives an overview of all of the other major conditions, as well as treatments, prevention, and prognosis. Products with preventative benefits include tick collars, vaccines, and over-the-counter and prescription treatments, but none is 100-percent effective.
5. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Lyme Guides (One for Cats, One for Dogs): Since incidence of Lyme Disease is rare in cats, many resources about the condition do not make specific reference to felines. Cornell’s Feline Health Center has made a point of specifically addressing Lyme in cats, noting that though its occurrence is rare, it can be potentially life threatening for felines. There is no vaccine to protect cats against the condition, so applying cat-safe bug spray is recommended before allowing cats outdoors, particularly in areas that are considered high risk for encountering affected ticks. Be careful, advises Cornell; felines are “extremely sensitive to many insecticides” found in insect repellants, so just because a product is considered safe for dogs does not mean it is safe for cats.
Cornell also offers an extensive guide that gives an in-depth look at the disease solely in dogs, covering everything from transmission of the disease to diagnosis and treatment. Though up to 75 percent of dogs living in high-risk tick areas may come in contact with affected ticks, only 5 percent of such dogs will exhibit symptoms.
6. CDC’s Lyme Disease Website: This site contains the mother lode of information on this health concern, primarily aimed at humans, but also has plenty of resources on preventing the condition in animals, too. For those concerned about potentially catching the disease from a four-legged friend, the CDC explains that there is no direct way pets transfer the condition to humans; however, animals can inadvertently bring ticks into the home. As such, the CDC gives tips for checking pets for ticks. Pet parents can even take a quiz to test their Lyme disease knowledge.
7. Lyme Disease Awareness on Social Media:
Want to show your solidarity with the Lyme community during Lyme Disease Awareness Month? Lyme Green, a blog written by a patient with the condition, has a library of images for people to share and demonstrate support all throughout May. Head to the Lyme Disease Awareness page for updates and memes specific to the Lyme community. On Twitter, track the hashtag #LymeDiseaseAwarness for more personal insights from those affected by Lyme.