Can Your Columbia SC Dog Get Lyme Disease? Can Your Cat? Horse?

Author: Mosquito Squad of Columbia

Our pets are members of our family.  We feed, shelter and care for them as if they were our children.  For many of us, our dogs are our best friends.  They know how to make us laugh and are always happy to see us after a long day.  You may have thought you only had to be concerned with things like heartworm, dental disease, hip dysplasia and other diseases specific to your dog’s breed.  There may be more to worry about.  If your pet spends time out in your yard or on your property, they could be exposed to ticks and tick-borne diseases.

Here are some signs and symptom of Lyme Disease in your pet:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargic and not playful
  • Low grade fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes near the bite site
  • Recurring acute arthritis and joint stiffness
  • Leg lameness that seems to shift to other legs at times

Dog owners are often not aware that cat and equine pets (horses, mules, etc.) can also contract Lyme Disease, as well as other tick-borne diseases.  Dogs, however, make up many of the Lyme Disease cases in the Columbia area each year.

Risk factors for Lyme Disease:

  • The prevalence of ticks and Lyme Disease where you live or where your dog has traveled
  • Finding a tick in your yard
  • Your yard is surrounded by tall brush
  • Your home is near a wildlife area
  • There are deer near where your dog spends time
  • Your dog is not vaccinated for Lyme Disease

Ticks may live up to three years during their life cycle.  In that time, they will go through four stages of development.  Later we will discuss how Mosquito Squad of Columbia treats tick infestations throughout this Life Cycle.

The Stages of a Tick’s Life Cycle:

  • Egg
  • Larva
  • Nymph
  • Adult

Ticks need a blood meal at each stage of their life cycle.  The last two stages are the most concerning ones to pet owners.  In the nymph and adult stages, ticks will be on the lookout for larger hosts than they needed in the larva stage.  In these last two stages, pets are often the hosts of choice for the developing tick.  Ticks at any stage can have Lyme Disease and transmit it to their host.

The tick bite itself is not what causes Lyme Disease.  Only when the tick carries the bacteria, Borrelia burgdoferi, does the bite have the potential of causing Lyme Disease in its host.  Ticks stay attached to their host often for five days before getting the blood they need and leaving.  It is during the first 24 to 36 hours that the tick will begin to infect its host with the bacteria.

Removing ticks soon after they attach is important in stopping the transmission of the Disease.  Inspecting your dog soon after coming indoors is one of the first actions a pet owner can do to prevent Lyme Disease.  The thickness of your dog’s hair, the time you have to thoroughly inspect your dog and their ability to remain still for the inspection, can all lower the success of your inspection and in preventing the Disease.  Remember to remove any ticks you find carefully.   No parts of the tick should remain in the dog’s skin after the tick is removed.

The Prognosis for Lyme Disease in Pets

Diagnostic tests are available for Lyme Disease but not for all tick-borne illnesses.  As with most Diseases, early detection is important. Early treatment is necessary for the best prognosis of your pet.  Unfortunately, the clinical signs of Lyme Disease may not show up for 7 to 21 days in your pet and in some cases even longer.  Some clinical signs like fever and joint pain often do not show up for 2 to 5 months after infection.

What You Can Do To Keep Your Dog Safe

In South Carolina 1 in 71 dogs tests positive for Lyme Disease.  The Companion Animal Parasite Council predicts that the threat of Lyme Disease will be moderately high in 2014 in South Carolina.  Each year the threat of Lyme Disease for pets is higher in the Columbia-area than in many other parts of South Carolina.

We recommend you consider vaccinating your pet, reducing the brush and leaf litter in your yard, mowing your grass frequently and inspecting your dog each day for ticks.  These are all helpful in preventing Lyme Disease in your dog; however, a proven solution that prevents ticks from getting on your dog at all should be your first line of defense.

For prevention, we recommend you contact Mosquito Squad of Columbia. Mosquito Squad of Columbia has years of experience eliminating ticks and mosquitoes on your property.  Our first line of tick prevention is a barrier spray, which is completely safe for your pets.  In fact, the same barrier spray we use to eliminate mosquitoes also provides the protection for ticks.  Our barrier spray tick protection program eliminates ticks in your yard or on your protected property.

If you have a severe tick problem, we can also treat nymph ticks with our Tick Tube program.  Our tick tubes work at eliminating ticks in the nymph stage of their growth.  Studies have shown that tick tubes can be up to 97% effective in reducing exposure to infected ticks.  We are committed to fully protecting your pets with these programs.

Utilize Mosquito Squad of Columbia for all your insect and pest control needs. We successfully treat and rid your yard and home of mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, fleas and termites. Call us today!