Modern day living has a lot going for it, but possibly the leading attributes have to do with advances in medical arts. Disease has always been one of our greatest foes, but via timely and routine vaccinations, education, and preventive practices, we can live a relatively healthy life. This goes for our pets, too.
Lyme disease in dogs remains a formidable threat, but there are several ways to counteract possible exposure to this serious illness.
A Lyme disease diagnosis occurs following infection with Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. Transmitted by the black-legged tick (deer tick), the infection can spread within a day or two, although the following symptoms won’t surface for 1-4 months:
- Joint inflammation
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Kidney disease/failure
While cats can certainly be bitten by infected ticks, it is rare that they’ll develop Lyme disease. Other mammals affected are deer, cattle, horses, rabbits, and other small rodents.
Ticks lie in wait for their next blood meal to walk past them. Using heat sensors, they position themselves in places that allow for an easy pick-up.
Advanced diagnostics are incredibly helpful at different stages of an animal’s life, and vital for Lyme surveillance. Since Lyme can cause the kidneys to fail, it’s important to screen regularly and intervene early.
The majority of cases of Lyme disease in dogs can be cleared up with an antibiotic, but because most dogs won’t show obvious symptoms of the disease, yearly screenings help to avoid incurable kidney disease.
A Call for Prevention
We advocate for year-round parasite prevention that inhibits fleas, ticks, and heartworm-carrying mosquitoes. In addition to this monthly application, if your dog’s lifestyle involves lots of outdoor experiences, we may recommend the Lyme disease vaccination.
Lyme Disease in Dogs
Tick-heavy environments include wooded areas, trail systems, tall grass, and overgrown patches. However, if you have an open yard that deer or other mammals pass through, your dog could easily pick ticks up in the yard. Follow these precautions to limit your dog’s risk:
- Maintain your yard and property so that animals carrying ticks won’t be attracted to visit. Seal garbage and compost bins, trim back any tall grass, do not allow weeds to grow, and possibly consider pesticides (just do not use toxic lawn chemicals while your pet is outside).
- Check your dog’s body every day during peak tick season.
- Keep your pet’s hair trimmed to make it easier to spot ticks. Always check their paws, legs, belly, chest, ears, and muzzle.
Lyme disease in dogs is a growing concern, but when you exercise all of the preventive practices available, your dog can continue living their happy, healthy life. Plus, when you protect your dog from ticks, you protect yourself and family members from picking up one of these bloodsuckers after it’s fallen off your dog. Win-win!