With warmer days come longer outdoor hikes, and your dogs have probably been anxiously awaiting these excursions. This is also the time of year that ticks appear though, and the risk of Lyme Disease goes up. In fact, April is Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month, so please learn the subject and help us spread the word!
When you go on a hike, your dog may go off trail for just a few seconds here and there while sniffing around. That’s long enough for them to pick up a deer tick, the arachnid responsible for transmitting Lyme Disease bacteria.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Dogs
In case your dog does travel off road in the coming months, take time to learn the symptoms. If your dog contracts Lyme Disease, they may:
- Have a stiff walk
- Arch their back
- Be sensitive to touch
- Have difficulty breathing
- Show signs of a fever
- Have a lack of appetite
- Have Joint inflammation
- Show Swelling at the bite area
If the disease progresses, your dog could also face heart abnormalities, nervous system complications, and eventually, kidney system failure. Luckily, Lyme Disease is usually treatable and responds well to antibiotics.
Preventing Tick Bites on Dogs
If you want to prevent Lyme Disease at the source, it’s a good idea to focus on tick prevention. There are many collars and topical treatments for dogs and cats on the market and available from your veterinarian that prevent tick bites and kill ticks. As Lyme disease is only spread through tick saliva, preventing the bite will prevent the possible transmission of disease. Ticks generally need to be attached for 24-48 hours before infection occurs. You and your pets cannot spread the disease to one another directly. If you live on acreage, keep the weeds and tall grasses to a minimum. You’ll also want to prevent rodent infestations by keeping the property clear of garbage as rodents can bring in tick infestations as well. And finally, be sure to thoroughly check your dog, and yourself, for ticks after hiking or walking through brush and forests.
There is a vaccine available for Lyme disease in dogs, however many questions remain about its effectiveness and not all veterinarians recommend its use on a general basis. However, if you are traveling with your dog to areas with a high prevalence of Lyme disease, such as the Northeast and upper Midwest, you should definitely consider vaccination as a preventive measure.
Use a Clean Dog Boarding Facility
Cascade Pet Camp works hard to maintain a pest-free zone. All campers are checked for fleas and ticks at check-in to prevent people from bringing in infested dogs and cats. Early each spring, we cut back and spray the weeds outside of our perimeter fencing to keep a tick free buffer zone for our campers. And of course, our campers receive daily maid service while staying with us!
For more tips on Lyme Disease and tick prevention, check out these resources: