Did you know that this summer is expected to be a “Lyme disease war zone” — with ticks carrying Lyme disease rampant along much of the East coast?
For that reason, we thought it might be a good idea to provide some tips that could help prevent your pet from acquiring ticks, or at least from acquiring Lyme disease if a tick happens to make its way into his coat.
The easiest way to keep your pet safe might be to keep him indoors as much as possible, but, we are sure you don’t want to force your pet to be locked up all summer long! So, we have some other ideas that might be more beneficial in this fight for your pet’s well being (and maybe for yours as well!).
How Can You Protect Your Pet from Acquiring Lyme Disease?
Tip #1 Use Tick Preventative Products
Tip #1 Use Tick Preventative Products
Pyrethrins and Pyrethroids are two types of tick prevention medications that you can apply topically to your pet to prevent tick bites.
Some tick preventative medications can be toxic for certain kinds of pets, so discuss with your vet before using them, but most of the time they are harmless to big animals!
When applied to your pet’s coat, these preventatives poison ticks, mites and other types of insects, depending on the power level of the medication. Basically, when a tick lands on your pet, it will become weak and die before it can bite your pet and possibly transfer a tick-borne disease!
Tick preventatives are best for summer and spring when ticks are more likely to be prevalent and dangerous to your pooch, but since a tick can be active as long as the weather is above freezing temperatures, it might be a good idea to consider using them all year round.
Tip #2 Give Your Pet a Lyme Disease Vaccination
Because Lyme disease is one of the most common, serious disease in dogs, pet vaccinations are available to protect against it.
For dogs who spend a lot of time outside, a vaccination is often the best option for prevention of the disease.
The vaccinations sometimes require a booster shot within two to four weeks after the vaccination is first administered in order for it to be effective.
Tip #3 Avoid Forested Areas or Areas With Tall Grass
Your dog no doubt dreams about romping through meadows of tall grass, where butterflies roam, and nature abounds…But, unfortunately, these areas are highly risky in regards to tick presence.
Tall grasses, woodsy regions, and undergrowth are all places that ticks can hide, and when your dog or cat rushes through someplace like this, a tick can grasp onto his coat!
While you may want to allow your pet to experience this type of fun, you also need to be aware that such an environment will be just the type of place where ticks may abound. So proceed with caution!
Tip #4 Good News!
For Tip #4, we have some pretty good news to share in regards to Lyme disease prevention…
A tick usually has to be attached to an animal for at least 24 hours to transmit Lyme disease into your pet’s bloodstream by way of a bite.
Because of this, a thorough tick check when you come home from an adventure with your pet (within 24 hours of the danger time) could help prevent Lyme disease all on its own. If you do it right, you can usually find ticks on a pet, but do keep in mind that an especially furry pet can be very hard to search.
You want to check carefully behind the ears and all around your pet’s body. Check around the tail and underneath the body of your pet as well–don’t leave any spot unchecked!
Make sure that no tick managed to get onto your pet and you should be good!
If you do find a tick, then carefully remove it with tweezers, making sure to get the entire body of the tick out of your pet’s body. To do so, you should get a firm grip on the body of the tick and then remove it with a solid, quick, upward motion. Or try rubbing Vick’s Vapor Rub on the tick first, which can often make the tick detach itself — then you won’t have to worry about leaving the head!
If you can remove any infected ticks from your dog or cat within 24 hours of its visit to the great outdoors, then your pet should be fine!
How Can You Tell If Your Pet Has Contracted Lyme Disease?
If you pet has contracted Lyme disease, he will not be comfortable.
Symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever, pain, swelling, energy loss, loss of appetite, and painful joints.
Untreated, Lyme disease can lead to kidney failure and other complications.
One bad thing about Lyme disease is that the symptoms mentioned above do not always show themselves, or they may take weeks to show up, only to then disappear, making it hard for a pet owner to know if his dog or cat is really sick!
Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose, but it is discovered usually by way of blood tests and a thorough history of your dog’s health. If the diagnosis is Lyme disease, your dog can be treated with antibiotics and sometimes an anti-inflammatory to help relieve discomfort. Early detection is key before it leads to more severe complications!
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Best of luck to all our pet parents and pet friends this spring and summer; be safe, and be careful but also have fun!