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Protecting Your Dog From Lyme Disease

May 1, 2021

As you may know, Lyme disease has been on the rise in recent years, in large part because of exploding tick populations. Lyme disease is zoonotic, which means that both humans and animals can be afflicted. The CDC lists it as the most common vector-borne disease in America. Lyme disease is transmitted through tick bites, particularly that of the deer tick. A local vet offers some tips on protecting your canine pal and yourself from this dangerous disease below.

Parasite Prevention

First and foremost, keep up with Fido’s parasite control regime. This is very important! There are many products to choose from, including sprays, topical drops, medicated ‘treats,’ and shampoos. Ask your vet for specific recommendations. Never combine products, or use different ones back-to-back. That could expose your pet to dangerous levels of pesticides!

Landscaping

Our canine buddies love to sniff around in bushes and long grasses. These are the sorts of places ticks love to lurk! One thing that will help is staying on top of your landscaping. Mow your lawn regularly, and remove any debris, such as piles of leaves or dead branches, where ticks may be nesting. Also, trim any shrubs you have around your home, and make sure they aren’t touching the walls of your house.

Vaccinations

There are vaccines available for Lyme disease for dogs. However, they aren’t always going to be recommended for every pup. Ask your vet for more information.

Checks

Ticks must be attached for at least 24 hours to spread Lyme disease, so we recommend checking Fido daily. Look under his collar and between his furry little toes. If you do find a tick, use tweezers or a tick popper to carefully remove it. You need to be sure you get the whole thing.

Keep Yourself Safe

It’s also important to protect yourself from ticks! If you spend time in fields or woods, wear long sleeves and tuck your jeans into your socks. Be sure to check yourself thoroughly when you get home.

Watch For Warning Signs

If Fido does contract Lyme, he won’t show symptoms right away. It might actually take a few months for you to notice that anything is wrong. Some red flags include fever, limping/lameness, stiff or swollen joints, lethargy, and reduced appetite. It’s worth noting that many of these signs also occur with anaplasmosis. Call your vet immediately if you notice anything wrong.

Our Advice on Protecting Your Dog From Lyme Disease in 2024

What are the specific symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs, and how do they differ from the symptoms in humans?

In dogs, specific symptoms of Lyme disease include fever, limping or lameness, swollen or stiff joints, lethargy, and reduced appetite. These symptoms may take a few months to appear after a tick bite. In contrast, humans typically experience an expanding red rash (erythema migrans) at the bite site, flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, and headaches within days to weeks of the bite. While humans and dogs can suffer from joint pain and fever, the hallmark rash seen in humans is not observed in dogs, making early detection in pets more challenging.

How long does it typically take for symptoms of Lyme disease to appear in dogs after a tick bite?

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs typically take several weeks to a few months to appear after a tick bite. The delay is due to the time it takes for the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, to spread and cause noticeable signs such as fever, lameness, swollen joints, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Regular tick checks and prompt removal are crucial in reducing the risk of transmission. If symptoms are observed, immediate veterinary consultation is necessary for diagnosis and appropriate treatment to prevent long-term health issues.

Are there any specific dog breeds or age groups that are more susceptible to contracting Lyme disease or experiencing severe symptoms?

While Lyme disease can affect any dog breed or age group, certain breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Shetland Sheepdogs may be more prone to developing severe symptoms due to a genetic predisposition to immune-mediated complications. Younger and older dogs can be more vulnerable to severe symptoms due to their developing or weakened immune systems. However, all dogs are at risk in tick-infested areas. Regular tick prevention, early detection, and prompt treatment are essential to protect all dogs from Lyme disease and its potential complications.

Are there any long-term health consequences for dogs that have contracted Lyme disease, even after successful treatment?

Dogs that have contracted Lyme disease can experience long-term health consequences even after successful treatment. Chronic symptoms may include persistent lameness, recurring joint inflammation, and kidney issues such as Lyme nephritis, which can be life-threatening. Some dogs may also develop long-term fatigue and decreased activity levels. Regular veterinary check-ups and ongoing monitoring are crucial for managing these potential complications. Early detection and comprehensive treatment can reduce the risk of severe long-term effects, but some dogs may still require ongoing care to manage persistent health issues related to Lyme disease.

How effective are Lyme disease vaccines for dogs, and are there any potential side effects?

Lyme disease vaccines for dogs are generally effective in reducing the risk of infection and the severity of symptoms. While not 100% preventative, they significantly lower the chances of contracting Lyme disease. Potential side effects are typically mild and may include soreness at the injection site, lethargy, or a slight fever. In rare cases, dogs may experience an allergic reaction. Regular tick prevention and vaccination together offer the best protection. Consult a veterinarian to determine if the Lyme vaccine is suitable for your dog based on their health and lifestyle.

Please contact us, your veterinary clinic in Carlisle, ON, anytime.

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