The months of May through July see the highest number of diagnosed Lyme Disease cases in dogs. Although Lyme Disease is diagnosed all year long in dogs, there is one primary reason spring and summer see the most cases. During this time of year, ticks are in the nymph stage of their life cycle. Nymph ticks on dogs are very small and difficult to see, especially on dogs with thick coats.
Finding a tick on your best friend can be a shock. If you find a tick on your dog, you are already taking the first step in dog tick control. Anytime your dog spends time outdoors, a check for ticks should be done as soon as they come indoors. If you find a tick that is small and not engorged with blood, the chance of your pet contracting a tick-borne disease is greatly reduced. Researchers estimate it takes a tick 24 to 48 hours before it can transmit enough bacteria to pass on its infection.
When you find a tick, remove it safely and quickly. Grasp it near the skin with pointed tweezers to remove all the parts of the tick. You may need help if your dog needs to be held while removing the tick. In addition, you may need help holding a flashlight to see the tick clearly while removing it.
Removing a tick can be a traumatic time for both you and your dog. This may not be the last tick you remove from your pet. Helping them understand that removing a tick is as normal as being groomed will help. Chances are you found the tick while brushing them, looking for ticks, so they were already calm and enjoying your attention. Try to keep things that way when removing ticks you find.
You should also know that people and dogs do not pass Lyme Disease to each other. An infected tick from your dog can bite you and give you an infection, however. Be sure and properly dispose of any ticks you find. Putting a tick in a tightly sealed plastic bag and putting the bag in the trash is sufficient.
Your dog will not feel any pain from the tick bite. Ticks rely on an anesthetic and anti-inflammatory in their secretions to numb the skin so neither humans nor dogs can feel their bite. These same secretions will help prevent your dog from feeling pain when you remove the tick. What your dog may feel is the skin being pulled.
Although humans often get a bulls-eye rash from an infected tick with Lyme Disease, dogs do not. In fact, it may take 2 to 5 months before any signs of the disease occur in your dog. During this time, if your dog becomes slow or less active, look for signs of lameness. Lameness that seems to shift from one side to the other is strong evidence of an infection. Swollen lymph nodes and inflammation around the leg at the shoulder or hips also indicate an infection.
The best tick protection for your yard is a seasonal barrier spray protection program.
If you notice any signs of an infection, contact your veterinarian for an appointment and testing. Two weeks of prescribed antibiotics are sufficient to treat most dogs with Lyme Disease. There are also approved vaccines for Lyme Disease in dogs. These vaccines will reduce the symptoms of the disease but not prevent it. Owners who live near wooded areas or areas with tall bushes or brush nearby should consider eliminating ticks in their yard with a perimeter spray. An effective perimeter spray will eliminate ticks and reduce the risk of Lyme Disease for all your family members, including your best friend.
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