Danger! Lyme Disease in Pets and How to Prevent It
Lyme disease has been in the news in recent years, and for good reason. According to the CDC, recent estimates suggest that approximately 300,000 people contract Lyme disease each year in the United States. The disease affects both humans and animals, and if left untreated, can result in a host of painful complications.
With more outdoor time and warmer summer weather, now is the time to focus on preventing Lyme disease in pets. Your team at New Haven Pet Hospital shares some tips for keeping you and your best fur pals safe.
Lyme Disease in Pets
The Lyme disease bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi is spread by the bite of an infected tick. The black-legged tick (also known as the deer tick) spreads the disease in the mid-Atlantic, Northeastern and north-central US. The Western black-legged tick spreads the disease on the Pacific Coast.
It is most common for dogs to contract Lyme disease, but cats and other mammals are also susceptible. Signs of Lyme disease in dogs include fever, joint pain, lethargy, inappetance, and lameness. Signs may be intermittent, and may seem to get better and then reappear months later. If your pet experiences any of these signs, please schedule an appointment so we can evaluate her right away.
Protecting Your Pet
Ensuring your pet is on a year round, effective flea and tick preventative is the absolute best way to prevent tick borne diseases, including Lyme disease. If you need a refill or to start a preventative please give us a call so we can protect your pet without delay.
Other methods of preventing Lyme disease in pets include good tick control methods, such as:
- When out walking or hiking with your dog, keep him out of grassy or heavily wooded areas.
- When you come inside, run your clothes immediately in the dryer. The washer does not kill ticks, but the heat of the dryer will.
- Inspect your pet thoroughly for ticks each time he comes inside from being out. Pay special attention to the ears, groin, armpits, toes, and base of the tail.
- Control ticks in your yard by removing brush, leaf litter, and overgrown grassy areas. Maintain fencing to prevent wildlife from bringing ticks into your yard.
- Talk to your veterinarian to determine if your pet might be a good candidate for the Lyme disease vaccine.
How to Remove A Tick
In order to transmit the Lyme disease bacterium, a tick must be attached to its host for 36-48 hours. This means that inspecting your dog frequently and learning how to promptly remove ticks is imperative to prevention.
Take these steps to safely remove a tick from your pet.
- Use a pair of tweezers or a tick removal tool to gently grasp the tick at the base, near your pets skin.
- Pull the tick directly up and out, without twisting or turning.
- Clean the site with rubbing alcohol or a pet safe disinfectant.
- You may want to preserve the tick in rubbing alcohol if you would like to have it tested for Lyme disease.
Never use the following internet methods for removing a tick – they don’t work, and many are simply unsafe!
- Never “suffocate” the tick by putting petroleum jelly, nail polish, or any other substance on your pet’s skin.
- Never burn the tick off with a match or lighter.
- Never freeze a tick with ice or other methods.
Tick prevention can be time consuming and stressful, but with some awareness and precautionary measures, you and your pet can still enjoy the outdoors safely. If you have questions or concerns about Lyme disease in pets, please give us a call at any time.