Protecting Your Dogs, Cats and Horses from Lyme Disease and Other Tick Borne Illnesses

There is no denying the adoration we feel for our pets. Pet owners may differ in the kind of animals they choose, but the bonds are the same. Maybe you are one of the masses that agree a dog is a man’s best friend. Studies even indicate that stroking a dog can relieve stress and lower blood pressure. Maybe you like the independent nature of a cat, or maybe you even find solace in grooming your horse every day and enjoy trail riding on the weekends as an escape from the everyday. No matter what kind of pet you have, as a pet owner, you want to keep them healthy and happy.

Dogs, cats and all breeds of equine are unfortunately susceptible to contracting Lyme Disease and the symptoms can be easily overlooked. This is why it is so important to control ticks in our environment and learn the symptoms of Lyme Disease in our pets. The only way we can efficiently have the disease diagnosed and treated promptly is to watch for signs that something may be wrong.

While Lyme Disease is more prevalent in dogs than in felines, it is possible for your cat to contract Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.  Mosquito Squad of the North Shore consulted with our resident veterinary expert for signs of Lyme Disease in our animals.  Heidi Soffron at Putnam Veterinary Clinic in Topsfield, MA said “Things we typically look for with Lyme Disease are sudden lameness that alters from one leg to the other or comes and goes, fever, lethargy, inappetance and painful joints all over.  We usually run a test for Heartworm/Lyme/Anaplasmosis/Ehrlichia; all but heartworm are tick borne diseases.  The drug of choice to treat Lyme disease, and other tick borne illnesses is in major shortage from the drug companies so other antibiotics may need to be used until this medication becomes available again.”

All classes of equine including donkeys, mules, miniature horses and ponies are susceptible to Lyme Disease as well.  This is particularly relevant for Essex County residents with the large population of horses in many of our towns.  It’s important to recognize signs of lameness, joint pain and/or stiffness, shifting from limb to limb, and weight loss as possible signs of Lyme Disease. Horses may exhibit behavioral changes, poor performance, personality changes, anterior uveitis (ERU/moon blindness-like eye changes) and varying degrees of insulin resistance especially in laminitis Lyme horses.

Frequent tick checks, particularly behind the ears, lower legs and mane, and prompt removal are imperative to reduce the risk of infection for your pets.  While there are several tick removal devices on the market, a set of fine-tipped tweezers work very effectively.   With any device, you want to firmly grasp the tick as close to the skins surface as is possible and pull upward applying steady pressure. Twisting, jerking or manipulating the tick in any way can break the tick, leaving its mouthparts intact in your pet’s skin. If this should happen, carefully remove the mouth parts with tweezers as well and clean the bite area with iodine, alcohol or soap and water.

Prevention is the best way to keep your animals free from ticks and the diseases they carry.  Mosquito Squad of the North Shore has a safe and effective intensive tick control program that includes a double layer of protection with proven results.  We begin by applying our safe and highly effective barrier treatment to your property to eliminate any existing ticks as well as mosquitoes that can carry the Eastern Equine Encephalitis, another serious viral disease that affects horses.  The second tier includes strategically placed tick tubes around your property.  Tick tubes work by disrupting the life cycle of ticks and reduce your chances, and your pet’s chances of coming into contact with a potentially infected tick by up to 97%.

If you’d like to learn more about making your property safer for yourself, your family and your beloved pets, give us a call.  We’d be happy to discuss any concerns you have for your pets and give you a free quote.