May marks the arrival of warmer weather and more outdoor activities, which is why this month is also dubbed as Lyme Disease Awareness Month.
Lyme Disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases in the world and can affect both dogs and humans. Our pets are constantly lounging and playing in conditions readily exposed to ticks, like going on a hike or taking a walk through long grass, so it’s important to understand what Lyme Disease is and how you can prevent it in your pup.
Lyme Disease is caused by a bacteria that gets into the bloodstream through a tick bite. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel to different parts of the body and cause problems in specific organs or locations, such as joints, as well as overall illness. A tick can transmit the disease once it has been attached to the dog for 24 to 48 hours, which is why prompt removal of a tick is crucial.
While there are various flea and tick products on the market (which we will dive into later), the best way to prevent Lyme Disease is to physically check your dog for ticks every day - especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. Ticks tend to crawl into harder-to-spot places in an attempt to hide, so it’s important to really go through hair by hair, making sure to check the ears, the muzzle, the face/neck, and in between the toes.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease:
- Fever between 103° and 105°
Lameness (abnormal gait or stance)
Loss of appetite
Swollen lymph nodes
If your dog is diagnosed with Lyme Disease, the veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics (usually Doxycycline) and often the symptoms will resolve within a week. While Lyme Disease can usually be cured easily, there can also be more serious complications including damage to the kidneys, and rarely, heart or nervous system disease.
Lyme vaccines are available, but their use is somewhat controversial. Talk to your veterinarian to see if Lyme vaccination is right for your dog.
The fear of Lyme Disease is not a reason to keep your pup from enjoying the great outdoors. As long as you make sure you are taking the proper precautions and are attuned to any abnormalities in your pup, you can continue enjoying this beautiful LA weather with your dog!