When you hear the words ‘Lyme disease’ you will most likely not be picturing your very own backyard. Unfortunately with the changing climates, the risk of exposure to Lyme disease is now rising within Ontario and Canada. If your dog spends time outdoors, in the bush, wooded areas or around long grasses, he or she may be at risk. The best way to protect your pet from this disease is through knowledge and prevention.
First off, it is important to know how this disease is spread to your pet. Lyme disease is transmitted by a bacteria from infected ticks. These ticks become infected by feeding off of other infected animals, such as mice. When the infected tick bites your dog it can transmit the bacteria which causes Lyme disease. Peak time periods for ticks begins in the spring and runs through to the fall, extra protection is needed during this time frame.
If infected, symptoms do not always appear right away. It can take several months for visible symptoms to manifest and they may be transient (coming and going).Symptoms can include: a decreased appetite, lameness or painful joints, fever and lethargy. If your dog starts to exhibit these symptoms and has been in contact with a tick, talk with your veterinarian without delay. If your vet suspects exposure, he or she will need to take a thorough history of your pet, discuss symptoms and perform some blood work looking for specific antibodies. If Lyme disease is contracted, some infections may unfortunately require lengthy periods of antibiotics to clear all bacteria from the body, especially if it has entered the kidneys. Finding out if your pet is infected early on, will offer him or her the best prognosis.
All in all, prevention is the best and least costly method of keeping Lyme disease from afflicting your pet. One easy method of prevention is to check your dog daily for ticks after walks through high risk areas, or during peak tick seasons. When searching for ticks on your dog, run your hands down the body and through the fur paying careful attention to areas around the face and head. If you see a tick, remove it immediately. The longer the tick is attached to your pet, the higher his or her chances are of contracting disease. How do you remove a tick? The best method for removal is to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible without twisting, then pull upwards with steady pressure.
Topical products such as Advantix can also help protect your pet. These products are available at the Lansdowne Animal Hospital and are easily applied topically during peak seasons.
Furthermore, our clinic has simple on-site testing for Lyme disease with results available in only 8 minutes. Remember to ask for the 4DX snap test for your pet. Not only can it detect heartworm disease, but it can detect exposure to Lyme disease, as well as Anaplasma and Ehrlichia (2 other tick borne diseases). These diseases can be very dangerous for your pet, therefore finding out early is very important.
And last but not least, don’t forget to vaccinate your dog. This is especially true if he or she enjoys walks through fields, forests and bush type areas. This vaccine only needs to be given once yearly. It helps prevent Lyme disease in your dog and can help prevent your pet from becoming a carrier of this disease.
When it comes to emerging diseases, such as Lyme disease, make sure you educate yourself and take preventative measures such as those listed above. Not only will those actions help ensure the best health for your pet all year long, but they will keep your furry loved one happy in doing what they love best!