A KENDAL couple have described their pet Labrador’s battle with Lyme disease as vets warn of a ‘worrying increase’ in the condition in South Lakeland.

Sean and Julie Stacey, of Sepulchre Lane, first noticed a problem with Bracken when the then 18-month-old dog started limping.

“We’d started taking her on a few little walks into the Lakes and thought it was a pulled muscle,” Mr Stacey said. “But it wasn’t getting any better; she was obviously in pain and it was alternating between the two sides which was quite strange.”

Tests revealed Bracken was suffering from Lyme disease, which is transmitted through a tick bite.

“We were shocked because we had never heard of a dog getting it before,” he said. “The vets in Kendal said it was very rare. She was put on a course of antibiotics for a couple of months and we were told the disease could come back, which it did last year.

“We saw the same symptoms but since a second course of drugs she has been clear.”

A chemical tick treatment was used, which is put on the dog’s shoulder blade and kills ticks once they begin to feed.

Paul Hibbin from the Westmorland Veterinary Group, based in Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale, said: “We have diagnosed five dogs with Lyme disease in the last 12 months, which is a worrying increase. In previous years it has been very rare.

“We would like to make dog owners aware of the significant risk in the area and for everyone to be as vigilant as possible to prevent their pets becoming infected.”

Lyme disease, also called Borreliosis, is a blood-borne bacterial disease spread by ticks. Diagnosis in pets can be difficult because the symptoms are vague and intermittent and may not occur for up to six months.

After a tick bites it normally takes over 12 hours for Lyme disease to be spread. Mr Hibbin said pets should be checked daily, and any ticks removed straight away.

The vets’ warnings comes as Public Health England issued a reminder for people to be ‘tick aware’ for their own safety this summer.