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Tips for Protecting Your Dog Against Lyme Disease

American Dog Tick_Jerry Kirkhart_Flikr Spring’s warmer days bring more opportunities for hikes and outdoor adventures with our dogs. But it’s also the time of year that ticks reappear, bringing with them an increased risk of Lyme Disease.

April is “Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month,” so we’ve devoted this blog post to providing you with tips for protecting your dog against Lyme Disease so that you can keep your dogs safe and help spread the word!

Anytime you and your dog go hiking, he or she may venture off trail. Even a few seconds in the weeds and brush could be long enough for a pup to pick up a deer tick, that icky arachnid responsible for transmitting Lyme bacteria.

Preventing Tick Bites
Since Lyme disease is spread through tick saliva, the best way to prevent the disease is to protect your dog from tick bites.

Consult your veterinarian about the safest topical treatments to prevent tick bites and kill ticks. And be sure to thoroughly check your dog — and yourself — after walks and hikes through weeds, brush or woods.

Ticks usually need to be attached to the skin for 24-48 hours before transmission of Lyme bacteria occurs, so even if it’s too late to prevent a bite, it may not be too late to prevent infection.

Vaccination
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Although there is a vaccine to protect dogs from Lyme disease, many questions remain about its effectiveness, and not all veterinarians recommend its use on a general basis. Still, if you’re traveling with your dog to areas with a high prevalence of Lyme disease, such as the Northeast or upper Midwest, you may want to ask your vet about vaccination.

Keep Things Clean
Another important step in protecting your dog — and yourself — from Lyme disease is managing your environment to eliminate tick habitat. If you live on a big lot or acreage, keep weeds and tall grasses to a minimum. Discourage rodents, which can carry ticks, by eliminating garbage and other sources of food.

Choose a clean boarding facility! Cascade Pet Camp works hard to maintain a pest-free environment. We make sure all our campers are free of fleas and ticks at check-in and then pamper them with daily maid service during their stay. We also manage our play areas and even the weeds outside of our perimeter fencing to create a tick-free buffer zone.

Lyme Symptoms in Dogs
In case your dog does encounter ticks this spring and summer, it’s smart to learn the symptoms of Lyme Disease. Dogs with this disease may show one or more of these symptoms:

  • Swelling at the bite area.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Fever.
  • Lacks appetite.
  • Walks stiffly.
  • Arches their back.
  • Is sensitive to touch.
  • Shows other signs of joint pain.

As the disease progresses, dogs can also develop heart abnormalities, nervous system complications, and eventually, kidney failure.

Luckily, Lyme Disease is usually treatable and responds well to antibiotics. For more tips on Lyme Disease and tick prevention, check out WebMD’s guide to Lyme Disease in dogs.