Lyme disease and your dog, a deadly combination

Lyme disease is primarily spread to both dogs and humans through the bite of an infected tick. Many different species of ticks can be involved, including the deer tick, the western black-legged tick, and the black legged tick. Ticks are tiny parasites that are difficult to see with the naked eye and can easily hide on people and pets.

Ticks, however, are not the only way the disease can be spread, fleas and other biting insects are capable of spreading it as well. There have been incidents in which Lyme disease has been transmitted by direct contact with infected body fluids. This ease of transmission has made Lyme disease one of the most commonly reported tick-borne diseases.

The symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include lethargy, loss of appetite, high fever, swollen lymph nodes and joint, and/or a sudden onset of lameness. Veterinarians have the ability to test for this disease in house and should be consulted immediately if any of the symptoms develop. Rapid treatment of a diagnosed case of Lyme disease is essential to prevent permanent damage to the joints on internal organs.

To lessen your dogs chances of contracting lyme disease, you should vaccinate him. After the initial immunization, a booster is recommended three weeks later, followed thereafter by annual re-vaccinations. The symptoms of Lyme disease in humans are similar to those found in dogs, and vaccination of the family dog will help to prevent the spread to humans.

A tick must feed on the host for approximately 24 hours before spread of the disease takes place. When you return from an outing, carefully check your dog’s skin and coat, including the groin, around the ears and tail and between the toes. If a tick is found, remove it immediately with an alcohol swab and tweezers. After applying the alcohol to the tick, carefully pull the tick upwards. Try not to squeeze the tick while removing it as this may force bacteria from the tick, back into the animal.

If possible, save the tick in a jar or sealed container. If the dog becomes sick or exhibits any of the symptoms described earlier, your veterinarian can identify the type of tick to aid in the choice of antibiotics to use. When it comes to ticks, do not take any chances.