May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month! Lyme disease is a very serious disease, which can afflict both people and pets. As you may know, Lyme disease is spread through ticks, which are unfortunately spreading throughout North America. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause some very serious—and potentially life-threatening—medical issues, including kidney failure and heart trouble. A veterinarian offers some important prevention tips below.
Ticks tend to lurk in long grasses, leaf litter, and piles of debris, such as fallen branches, while waiting for their next victim to go past. Mowing your lawn regularly and keeping up with landscaping will make your property less hospitable to them. Putting a three-foot gravel path around the edge of your property can also help. Ticks hate being exposed to direct sunlight, so they will often turn back at these borders.
Check your dog for ticks daily, especially if he’s been in areas that may be harboring ticks. Pay close attention to his paws, legs, tummy, and ‘armpits.’ You’ll also want to check beneath your canine friend’s collar and between those furry toes. If you do find a tick, remove it immediately with tweezers or a tick remover tool.
Keep up with Fido’s parasite control! This is actually the single most crucial thing you can do to protect your pet from these little monsters. There are now many different products available. Ask your vet for specific product recommendations.
No Free Lunch
Many wild animals are carriers of deer ticks. Keep your trash cans secure, so they don’t attract rodents. If you have gardens or fruit trees, pick up any fallen produce immediately. It will also help to use fencing to keep critters out of your garden.
Luckily, there are vaccinations available for Lyme disease. However, these are not recommended for every pup. Ask your vet for more information.
It’s important to take proper precautions for yourself as well. Wear protective clothing when you go into fields or wooded areas. Also, be sure to check yourself thoroughly when you get back inside.
Keep in mind that not all ticks actually carry Lyme disease. Plus, ticks have to be attached to your pet for 24-48 hours to transmit the disease. If your dog has been bitten, watch for signs of Lyme disease, which may not appear for a week or more. Some common signs are fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, and swollen joints. Fido may also act stiff, sore, and/or uncomfortable, and may limp or keep shifting his weight. Contact your vet ASAP if you notice any of these warning signs.
Please contact us, your vet clinic, for all your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!