In Austin, we see a lot of pests, including bed bugs, termites, ants, scorpions, spiders, and of course, ticks. These hard-shelled, ectoparasites are often grouped with fleas and mosquitoes because they each pose significant threats to pet health and well-being. As such, we recommend year-round parasite prevention for companion animals. Without a doubt, these bugs wreak havoc, but the fact that they spread harmful disease deserves attention. Lyme disease in dogs is just one of the dangerous effects of ticks, but there are ways to reduce exposure and prevent illness.
Of All the Bugs
We’d be hard-pressed to find another bug as bad as the tick. With the potential to transmit more than one disease to pets and people alike, ticks can harbor the spiral-shaped bacteria that causes Lyme disease in dogs. Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria gets deposited into the bloodstream during a bite of an infected tick.
Lyme disease in dogs is very concerning because only about 10% of dogs infected with Borrelia burgdorferi actually show telling symptoms, such as:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Swollen, inflamed joints
- Sensitivity to touch
- Sudden decreased appetite
The red, circular skin lesion commonly found in human cases of Lyme disease is not typically present in infected dogs. Untreated cases of Lyme disease in dogs can cause damage to the kidneys, eyes, the heart, and even the neurological system.
It is imperative that a dog with any obvious symptoms be tested and treated for Lyme disease. Most cases can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Left alone, however, severe complications could develop.
Lyme Disease in Dogs
Because of the risk of Lyme disease to your dog’s health, the best tactic is prevention. Fortunately, the strategy is relatively easy and includes the following:
- Maintain a year-round broad-spectrum parasite prevention medication for your dog.
- Reduce exposure to the common prey of ticks, such as deer, mice, raccoons, skunks, and other small mammals. Install secure gates and fences to keep roaming animals out. Take extra care with rodent care. Eliminate areas known to attract ticks, like overgrown grass, wood piles, and compost piles.
- Keep your dog on-leash when you go hiking together. Always carefully inspect their legs, belly, groin, back, neck, and underarms for ticks after any time outdoors.
- Daily comb-outs and brushing are critical during the spring and summer months. Know how to effectively remove and dispose of a tick found on your dog’s body.
- Schedule a Lyme disease vaccination if your dog’s lifestyle puts them at frequent risk of encountering ticks.
- Have your dog tested for Lyme disease, and other tick-borne illnesses, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.
Ticks are downright terrible, and the prevention of Lyme disease in dogs is a huge priority. If we can assist you with additional questions or concerns, please call us at (512) 263-9292. Our veterinarians at BEEVET Animal Hospital are always here for you.