Ticks and Lyme Disease in Dogs
What Is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can affect humans, dogs, cats and other mammals. Its primary carrier is the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), which often feeds on rodents in its early stages. Later, the tick can attach to a dog or human and transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Clinical signs include depression, swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite and fever, as well as lameness and swollen, painful joints. Renal failure can also be a consequence of Lyme disease.
What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Lyme Disease?
Bring your pet to a veterinarian, who will evaluate your dog for Lyme disease. This includes a physical exam, blood tests and possibly radiographs.
How Is Lyme Disease Treated?
Your veterinarian can best determine the optimal treatment plan for your dog. Canine Lyme disease is most often effectively treated with antibiotics. With prompt, proper treatment, your dog’s condition should start to improve within 48 hours.
How Can I Prevent Tick Infestation?
Many of the same products on the market that treat fleas also kill ticks and protect against future infestation. These topical treatments or collars are especially recommended for those dogs who live in areas with high tick populations. Speak to your vet to select the best product for your dog.
The key to any successful tick control program lies, literally, in your own backyard. Ensure a tick-free lawn by mowing it regularly, removing tall weeds and making it inhospitable to rodents by keeping garbage covered and inaccessible.