After a cold, snowy winter being cooped up indoors, your pets are itching to stretch their legs and run around outside for some exercise and adventure. Similarly, young, poppy seed-sized deer ticks called nymphs that have been growing and lying dormant all winter are now active, hungry and seeking a host. Before you let your dog roam around in tall grass or wooded areas, it’s important to protect them from Lyme disease and to know the signs and symptoms to look for that your pet might have been infected.
According to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, in areas of the northeast and upper Midwest, 25% of nymphs have been found to carry Lyme disease. Ticks that carry Lyme disease are especially likely to be found in tall grasses, thick brush, marshes and woods – they latch onto your dog when he passes by. A tick can transmit the disease once it has been attached to your pet for 24 to 48 hours, and symptoms usually do not appear until 2 to 5 months after a bite from an infected tick.
Lyme Disease in Dogs
Unfortunately, Lyme disease is a fairly common illness in canines. Typical symptoms in dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Flu-like symptoms
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Reduced energy
- Lameness (can be shifting, intermittent, and recurring)
- Reluctance to move
- General stiffness, discomfort or pain
- Swelling of joints
Symptoms may come and go and can vary from mild to severe. They often mimic other conditions. In severe cases, dogs may also develop heart disease, central nervous system disorders, or kidney disease.
My Dog is Exhibiting These Symptoms
If your dog is showing signs of Lyme disease, bring them into your preferred Animal Health Center clinic immediately. We diagnose Lyme disease based on the signs it’s showing and any history indicating your dog was possibly exposed to ticks. A blood test can also confirm that your dog was exposed to the bacterium after a period of time.
Prevention is Key
Don’t wait until your pet is showing symptoms to worry about Lyme disease! Taking measures to prevent Lyme disease will save you money, time and peace of mind down the line. Here are a few suggestions to prevent your pet from getting Lyme disease:
- Be sure your pet is up-to-date on their Lyme disease vaccination, and continue to give them their veterinarian-approved flea and tick medication throughout the year. While this medication won’t act as a barrier that stops a tick from getting on your pet, it will kill or incapacitate the tick so the Lyme disease bacterium cannot be transmitted to your pet.
- Avoid areas where deer ticks are likely to be prevalent, such as deep woods, marshes or grasslands.
- Inspect your pets after a walk through the woods or grassy settings. On dogs, look especially on the feet (and between their toes), on lips, around eyes, ears (even inside ears), near the anus and under the tail.
- The quicker you remove a tick, the less likely your dog will contract a secondary illness related to tick bites.
During the month of March, we are offering 10% off your dog’s Lyme vaccine. Contact your preferred Animal Health Center clinic to book your appointment today!