Lyme Disease in Pets
Protecting your canines from ticks is a critical part of their overall wellbeing and health. The following outlines useful information for detection and prevention.
For canines: The most important tick-borne diseases that affect dogs are Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, and Hepatozoonosis. All can have serious health consequences for dogs and many can have serious health consequences for people as well.
Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using flea & tick repellent, checking for and removing ticks promptly, and reducing tick habitat.
Most Common Symptoms
When infection leads to Lyme disease in dogs, the dominant symptoms are:
- Recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints
- A general feeling of discomfort, illness or uneasiness
If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system. Many dogs who develop Lyme disease have periodic lameness because their joints are inflamed. Sometimes the lameness lasts for only 3-4 days but recurs days to weeks later, either in the same leg or other legs.
In some cases, Lyme disease can also cause:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Lack of appetite
- Stiff walk with an arched back
- Sensitivity to touch
- Difficulty breathing
- Damage to the kidneys (although uncommon)
If a dog begins to exhibit signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased urination and thirst, and abnormal fluid buildups that can appear as swollen limbs they must immediately see a veterinarian for treatment.
Types of Ticks
There are many different species of ticks throughout North America. The most notorious tick species that come into contact with humans are the deer tick, American dog tick, lone star tick, brown dog tick, and Western black-legged tick. These tick species have similar life-cycles and habitats, but each transmits a unique set of pathogens and inhabits different geographical regions. To further identify ticks, visit Tick Counter.
It's important to determine a tick's gender. Adult male ticks, although they may attach, do not take blood and cannot transmit pathogens. It’s likely that any ticks you discover embedded on a human or animal are female.
A quick way to distinguish between a male or a female tick is the size of the dorsal shield. Regardless of species, the dorsal (upper) shield of males will cover most of the abdomen while a female’s shield covers only a small portion of the abdomen.
Where Do Ticks Like to Hide?
When you have been outdoors or in an area that is known for ticks, it’s important to make it a routine to inspect your pet for ticks before going indoors.
There are a few favorite hiding spots that you should know about when checking your pet for ticks. These areas include under the collar, under the tail, inside the groin area, between the toes, under the front legs, and at the elbows. Ticks have also been known to try to hide on a pet's eyelids and in the flap of their ears.
With your inspection, if you locate a tick on your pet, you’ll need to immediately remove it. Before you start the actual removal process, there are a few supplies you should have on hand to make the process go safely and smoothly.
- Tweezers (pointy ones work best)
- Latex or rubber gloves
- Rubbing alcohol
- Antiseptic wipes (optional)
- Jar or container with lid
- Treats (for distraction)
Follow these steps to safely remove a tick from your pet:
Step 1: Put on latex gloves. Ticks carry infectious diseases that can affect both humans and dogs. It’s always better to play it safe and wear protective gear.
Step 2: Steady your pet and keep them calm. Any unusual poking or prodding tends to make pets nervous. If there is another person available, have that person help keep your dog relaxed during tick removal. You can distract your pet with lick-able dog treats or use treats as rewards for good behavior. Never force your pet to stay put. If your dog resists the tick-removal process or becomes aggressive, enlist the help of your veterinarian.
Step 3: Take a pair of fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible. Grabbing close to the skin is the best way to get the tick head out. Be careful not to pinch your dog’s skin.
Step 4: Pull the tick straight out using steady, even pressure. Do not twist the tick, you want to avoid leaving any part of the tick behind. Do not squeeze or crush the tick, since its fluids may contain the infection. You may have heard that you can remove a tick with a lit match, this is a dangerous myth. Doing so can cause a tick to release toxins or diseases into your pet as is more dangerous. Once the tick is removed, examine it to make sure it was fully removed. If not, take your pet to a veterinarian to remove any remaining tick parts.
Step 5: Kill the tick by placing it in a container with rubbing alcohol. Once the tick is dead, most vets recommend keeping it in the container with a lid in case your pet begins displaying symptoms of the disease. Since there are many types of ticks that carry different diseases, keeping the tick can help your vet make a diagnosis.
Step 6: Disinfect the bite site with triple-antibiotic spray or wipes to disinfect the bite site, or you can use Pure and Natural Pet’s USDA Certified Organic Healing Balm with organic Neem to help disinfect. Keep an eye on it for signs of infection. If the skin remains red or becomes inflamed, see your veterinarian right away.
When are Ticks Most Active?
Adult ticks are most active from March to mid-May and from mid-August to November, however, there are geographic areas that have ticks year-round. Both nymphs and adults can transmit Lyme disease. Ticks can be active any time the temperature is above freezing.
To check the incidence of tick disease near you, go to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) for their interactive maps for the US and Canada. *Based on active weather patterns.
Preventing Ticks in Your Yard
Did you know you can make your yard less attractive to ticks depending on how you landscape? There are simple techniques to help reduce tick populations:
- Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
- Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas and around patios and play equipment. This will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
- Mow the lawn frequently and keep leaves raked.
- Stack wood neatly in a dry area (discourages rodents that ticks feed on).
- Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees and place them in a sunny location, if possible.
- Remove any old furniture, mattresses, or trash from the yard that may give ticks a place to hide.
You don’t have to use toxic pesticides to effectively kill fleas and ticks.
One of the most common and dangerous chemicals found in traditional flea collars is Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP), an organophosphate insecticide that works by interrupting a flea's central nervous system. TCVP is listed by the EPA as a carcinogen that also wreaks havoc on the human central nervous system.
A study conducted by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) concluded that flea collars, even when used as directed, can have “serious health consequences to humans.”
A safer alternative for your pets, family and the environment is the Pure and Natural Pet flea & Tick products. They are made in the USA with all-natural ingredients like Cedar Oil, Rosemary Oil, and Cinnamon Oil.
Cedar Oil — allows you to rid your pet of fleas & ticks as it disrupts their pheromones without harming pollinators.
Rosemary Oil — natural flea & tick repellant that is also anti-microbial, anti-fungal and antiviral.
Cinnamon Oil — repels ticks and naturally contains Eugenol, a fast-acting natural chemical compound that kills ticks on contact.
Layering product provides added protection. The Pure and Natural Pet Flea & Tick Shampoo is your go-to preventative. The all-natural Spray allows you to safely spray your dog & their bedding for pesky fleas & ticks. The convenient and portable Wipes are flushable and allow you to target prone areas. The face and ears, under the collar, groin, around the tail, and between the toes.
Now you’re ready to safely explore any outdoor adventure with your family pets.
The all-natural Pure and Natural Pet flea & tick products have won numerous industry awards from top pet editors, retailers, and consumers who value safe products for their family pets.