About two years ago, I learned and wrote about how enjoying the outdoors has its risks when it comes to ticks. While the stories about Lyme disease, spread by tick bites, have recently focused on human cases in Canada, we often don’t think about our pets. Protecting your dog from ticks and Lyme Disease is something that we also need to do – after all, they are our “baby”.
According to a 2014 Canadian online Angus Reid survey, 93% of Canadian dog owners say they would do anything they could to keep their dog happy and healthy. However, only one-third purchase preventatives for their dogs from ticks and tick born diseases.
Educating yourself is key before you hit the trails with your dog this spring and summer. The team at Bayer Animal Health has shared some important information that I’ve summarized:
What is Lyme Disease and How Do You and Your Dog “Catch” It?
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi – it’s transmitted to dogs and humans by the Western Blacklegged tick and the Blacklegged tick (also known as deer ticks) during the feeding process. So when a tick bites you, you are most likely to become infected.
But where do you find these ticks? They live in primarily wooded and grassy areas, and if you are walking through the with your pet, your chances of being bitten can be high. Humans can protect themselves from bites by using DEET or Permethrin and by staying on trails. Dogs are at greater risk of tick bites because they naturally go exploring into the bush and grass.
Lyme Disease Symptoms in Dogs
As bites are painless and ticks so tiny when unfed, you may not notice the bite on your dog. Some of the key symptoms for dogs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Lameness (may occur at the same time or occur later)
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes
- Skin signs
- Heart disease, kidney problems and neurological signs reported in rare cases
If you notice any of these symptoms and suspect Lyme Disease, make an appointment to visit your dog’s veterinarian to confirm and begin treatment if necessary.
Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs
When you have a pet of any kind, it’s your responsibility to know what kind of diseases it can potentially get. We call our dog or cat our “baby”, but we often don’t think about caring for it as if it was a real child. So it’s not surprising that the Angus Reid online survey found that 34 per cent of Canadian dog owners don’t consider Lyme disease a serious threat. They should! Only 6 per cent recognize the symptoms.
Informing yourself on Lyme Disease in dogs and asking your veterinarian for more information is the first step. Bayer Health has a topical treatment, a parasiticide – K9 Advantix – that protects dogs before ticks bite. It’s definitely something to look into if you often take your dog into natural settings.
NOTE: Read my post on preventing tick bites and Lyme disease in humans before you head off to the trails or camping this summer!
Has your dog ever been bitten by ticks? Tell me your story.