How To Protect Your Pet From Lyme Disease

beagle-laying-on-the-grassWith spring here, many people and their pets are starting to enjoy the fresh air.  By taking their pet out to the park or wooded areas, they may unknowingly be exposing their pet to Lyme Disease.   Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to people and their pets through a bite of a deer tick.  The bacteria is transmitted while the tick is sucking blood, but the tick must be attached for 48 hours for transmission to occur.

Lyme disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states in humans, but is more prevalent on the east coast and wooded areas like Minnesota.  Lyme disease does not discriminate against the dog breeds, as all breeds are susceptible.

The clinical signs of Lyme disease in dogs are numerous, but it may consist of lameness, fever, swollen lymph nodes and joints and decreased appetite.  In severe cases, clinical signs may lead to kidney disease, heart conditions, and nervous system disorders.  Animals do not have the typical rash that is seen in humans.

In order to diagnose the disease, blood testing is needed.  This testing will tell us if exposure has occurred.  If it has, oral medications are indicated.  Which usually consists of a 28 to 30 day course of an antibiotic such as Doxycycline or Amoxicillin.  Also sometimes other medications may be administered to control the pain and swelling in the pet.  Having the disease will not offer any immunity, so the pet can contract the disease again if it is exposed. So it is important to have your dog vaccinated against Lyme Disease if your pet is in wooded areas or tall grasses where the ticks inhabit.

As painful and as dangerous as the disease can be, it is important to try and prevent the disease if possible.  This may include periodic testing, use of tick control products such as topical tick control products, or collars, vaccinations, or checking frequently for ticks on your pet.  It is also helpful to avoid tall grass or wooded areas.

If you find ticks on your pet, it is best to remove them.  They can be removed by grasping them close to the skin with a fine-tipped tweezers.  With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from the skin.  To prevent infection, avoid crushing the tick.  After removal, clean the dog’s skin with soap and water and discard the tick by throwing it out in the trash or flushing it down the toilet.  Never use petroleum jelly, a hot match, nail polish or other products to remove a tick.  It is also best to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from exposure of the bacteria.

We can also help show you what to do if you have questions. Don’t hesitate to contact our office if you need help!