9 Facts About Lyme Disease and Dogs - Simply For Dogs
Lyme Disease

9 Facts About Lyme Disease and Dogs

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I don’t know about you, but where I live with Janice and Leroy, the hottest part of the summer has arrived. That tail end of true summer, when school is almost back in session and you start to daydream about pumpkin pie, is when the heat gets to be pretty unbearable. Unfortunately, I have two energetic dogs who need their exercise – so despite the heat, outside we go. That means sunscreen for me, plenty of water for all three of us, and heavy-duty flea and tick prevention for the dogs.

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WOOFthful Dog Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Organic Turmeric and MSM - Supports Healthy Joint Function, Comfort and Mobility | 120 Soft Chews | Made in USA
WOOFthful Dog Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Organic Turmeric and MSM - Supports Healthy Joint Function, Comfort and Mobility | 120 Soft Chews | Made in USA
$29.95
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Spunky Pup 2041 Fly & Fetch Duck Pet Toy
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Currently out of stock
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Bergan Stainless Steel Bowl, Heavy Duty Non-Skid, 2 Cup
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Frontline Plus for Dogs Large Dog (45 to 88 pounds) Flea and Tick Treatment, 3 Doses
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Last update on 2018-09-24 at 19:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Fleas and ticks are not just a summertime problem. However, because we tend to spend more time indoors in the winter, I notice these pests more in the summer. I’m particularly worried about ticks. They carry many diseases, and one, in particular, can be very nasty. We’re talking about Lyme disease, an illness that can affect humans as well as their dogs. This disease can cause all sorts of strange symptoms and health problems. Moreover, what’s worse, it may never actually go away – it’s not uncommon for the treatment to work, but for the illness to then come back. Here are nine key facts to know about Lyme disease.

1. Canine symptoms don’t show up right away.

In humans, Lyme disease is easier to spot right away because of a very unique rash it leaves. In dogs, the earliest symptoms usually occur months after the bite, meaning your dog is already infected. These symptoms could be sudden aggression or sudden lameness. If you suspect your dog has just gotten older and is having some joint problems, step away from the joint supplements, and call the vet. It could be Lyme disease.

2. Lyme disease isn’t always treated.

Many vets don’t treat Lyme disease with any sort of antibiotic or medication. This is because the disease isn’t well understood, and from what we have seen, these things don’t really do much in a lot of cases. If your dog is showing signs of symptoms, like fever, joint problems, lethargy, or not wanting to eat, that is when the vet will usually step in. But if your dog doesn’t seem to show any of these signs, but still tests positive for Lyme disease, it is possible that the vet won’t treat the dog. This can seem confusing or frustrating for worried pet owners, but as long as Fido is still running after his favorite fetch toy and acting like his normal self, he may not ever have any sort of serious side effects.

3. Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to severe Lyme symptoms.

If Lyme disease is something that is sometimes just “lived with”, there is a big sister version of this disease that is fatal. It is called Lyme nephritis, and it attacks the kidneys and causes them to fail. Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are more predisposed to developing this fatal version of Lyme if infected. In this case, it doesn’t matter if the dog is showing symptoms, the vet will typically treat them right away. These dogs will be put on strong antibiotics, monitored for kidney failure, and may have to have life-long vet care to ensure they stay healthy.

4. Dogs got lucky when it comes to treatment options.

In people, Lyme disease is a very complex illness. It often takes years of experimenting with treatment to get it just right, and many people end up living with lifelong symptoms of pain, tremors, and more. However, dogs usually go into remission in just a couple of days after taking an antibiotic. As soon as their fever breaks and they start to eat again, they usually clear right up and there are no more problems.

Related Content:

Protecting Your Dog from Ticks
Collars, Drops, or Shampoos: Which Flea and Tick Remover is Right for Your Dog (Video)
7 Tools for Keeping Your Dog Flea-Free
9 Things to Consider When It Comes to Fleas on Your Dog (Video)

5. The process to diagnose Lyme disease in dogs can be a bit involved, however.

The problem with diagnosing Lyme disease is that it may be totally asymptomatic, and when symptoms do show up, they can be related to a lot of other health problems. The best way to diagnose a dog for Lyme would be to do a blood test – however, a vet may be led astray by the possibility of other diseases if certain symptoms present at the same time. This is why it’s very important that you let your vet know if your dog is exposed to ticks regularly.

6. There is a Lyme disease vaccination for your dogs.

If you live in an area where Lyme disease is prevalent, you may want to get your dog vaccinated. Keep in mind that should your dog ever be infected with the disease, a vet may not want to treat them for fear that the treatment may attack the vaccination. The areas where Lyme disease is most common in the U.S. include the entire northeast, some parts of the west coast such as California and Washington state, and the north-central states like Minnesota and Wisconsin. There are some small pockets in the southeast, such as Florida and southeast Texas, where Lyme does seem more common as well.

Lyme Disease

7. There is evidence that Lyme-carrying ticks are more common in areas with heavy deer population.

In the eastern part of the U.S., studies have shown that ticks only really start to disappear when deer do. By keeping deer out of the yard, many homeowners have been able to discourage ticks from getting in their yard in the first place. This could help both you and your dog avoid Lyme disease. Getting rid of deer includes pulling up plants that tend to attract deer, putting up a fence, and planting things that tend to repel deer.

8. Tick control products don’t actually stop ticks from getting on your dog.

When I was a kid, putting tick and flea medicine on my dog Jake, I envisioned the medicine as creating an invisible shield around him that bugs couldn’t penetrate. Boy was I confused when we still saw ticks on Jake from time to time. The fact is that this isn’t how common flea and tick medicine works at all. Insects of all kinds can still get on your dog. The way the prevention medicine works is to kill bugs that bite your dog. Once they take a nibble, they die. This actually does help prevent Lyme disease, since ticks can’t transmit bacteria until they’ve been latched on and feeding for 24 hours. If you take a look at the name brand tick prevention products, they do mention that they target the ticks that carry Lyme disease. This process of killing ticks when they land on a dog is actually a safety measure for humans as well. If the ticks were just repelled away from the dog, they’d head to you next.

9. We are still learning about Lyme disease.

The CDC does not have a lot of information about this disease yet. It’s still relatively new, having only been identified in 1975. The CDC is still trying to learn which particular tick species are more likely to transmit the disease; what chemical treatments or other preventative measures work on those ticks; how to better diagnose Lyme disease; what impacts the way Lyme disease is spread across the country; and much more. Until we know those answers, it will be hard to really know if a dog should be treated, if the treatment is the best one, and how to best protect them from Lyme disease in the first place.

Common Sense Measures for Tick Prevention

At the beginning of this article, I linked a post I wrote on tick prevention for dogs. In that post, you can learn all about the many products that exist out there, from chewables and collars to topical drops. Beyond those products, there are many other things you can do to reduce your pet’s chances of getting Lyme disease.

 

  • Give your dog a very good inspection every night for ticks, especially if you live in an area where Lyme disease is common. Look in places like between the toes, behind and under the ears, around the neck, near the base of the tail, and near any open wounds or cuts. Ticks can be anywhere on a dog, but they specifically look for areas where the blood is close to the surface.
  • Try to avoid walking in areas of wet or tall plant life. Ticks are not great with dehydration, so they stick to tall, wet plants. This does mean they can be in trees and may drop down from above! Freshly mowed grass, dirt roads, sidewalks with no overhanging trees, and concrete areas are best for staying away from ticks. If you need to, invest in some booties to protect your dog’s feet from the hot pavement, and a collapsible bowl so you have water on the go!
  • Get your lawn treated for pests. It’s not a good idea to use multiple types of tick prevention on your dog, but it is a good idea to have your yard treated as well as using medicine on your dog. This helps prevent ticks from going in your yard in the first place, so you are less likely to see ticks on you or the dog.
  • If there is a wooded area or farmland that your property shares a border with, create a “moat” of gravel or wood chips between your property and that area. This discourages ticks from crawling to your home.
  • Be sure to keep your yard mowed and cleaned up. No leaf piles, no piles of wood being left in wet areas, no tall bushes or grass being allowed to grow up close to the home, and so on. Use plants that deter rodents and pests. Try not to have areas where you sit or play in the yard be located under trees.
  • Consider finding ways to exercise your dog indoors. You may be able to find a dog gym near you, or perhaps you have a friend with a large basement and a puppy that needs some exercise too. Consider taking more walks around the town on sidewalks, and having less fetch time in the yard.

Don’t forget to check yourself for ticks too! They can jump off your dog and onto you very easily. If you are removing ticks, it’s a good idea to wear gloves, or at least be very careful. You don’t want to accidentally get any of the blood from inside the tick onto any cuts or scrapes you may have.

Dog’s Products On Amazon

WOOFthful Dog Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Organic Turmeric and MSM - Supports Healthy Joint Function, Comfort and Mobility | 120 Soft Chews | Made in USA
Spunky Pup 2041 Fly & Fetch Duck Pet Toy
Bergan Stainless Steel Bowl, Heavy Duty Non-Skid, 2 Cup
Frontline Plus for Dogs Large Dog (45 to 88 pounds) Flea and Tick Treatment, 3 Doses
PetBonus 4-Pack Silicone Collapsible Dog Bowls, BPA Free and Dishwasher Safe, Portable and Foldable Travel Bowls-with 4-Color Carabiners Per Set
Blueberry Pet 19 Colors Durable Classic Dog Leash 5 ft x 5/8", Lavender, Small, Basic Nylon Leashes for Dogs
WOOFthful Dog Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Organic Turmeric and MSM - Supports Healthy Joint Function, Comfort and Mobility | 120 Soft Chews | Made in USA
Spunky Pup 2041 Fly & Fetch Duck Pet Toy
Bergan Stainless Steel Bowl, Heavy Duty Non-Skid, 2 Cup
Frontline Plus for Dogs Large Dog (45 to 88 pounds) Flea and Tick Treatment, 3 Doses
PetBonus 4-Pack Silicone Collapsible Dog Bowls, BPA Free and Dishwasher Safe, Portable and Foldable Travel Bowls-with 4-Color Carabiners Per Set
Blueberry Pet 19 Colors Durable Classic Dog Leash 5 ft x 5/8", Lavender, Small, Basic Nylon Leashes for Dogs
$29.95
Currently out of stock
$4.24
$36.49
$10.99
$10.99
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-
-
-
-
WOOFthful Dog Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Organic Turmeric and MSM - Supports Healthy Joint Function, Comfort and Mobility | 120 Soft Chews | Made in USA
WOOFthful Dog Hip and Joint Supplement for Dogs with Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Organic Turmeric and MSM - Supports Healthy Joint Function, Comfort and Mobility | 120 Soft Chews | Made in USA
$29.95
-
Spunky Pup 2041 Fly & Fetch Duck Pet Toy
Spunky Pup 2041 Fly & Fetch Duck Pet Toy
Currently out of stock
-
-
Bergan Stainless Steel Bowl, Heavy Duty Non-Skid, 2 Cup
Bergan Stainless Steel Bowl, Heavy Duty Non-Skid, 2 Cup
$4.24
-
Frontline Plus for Dogs Large Dog (45 to 88 pounds) Flea and Tick Treatment, 3 Doses
Frontline Plus for Dogs Large Dog (45 to 88 pounds) Flea and Tick Treatment, 3 Doses
$36.49
-
PetBonus 4-Pack Silicone Collapsible Dog Bowls, BPA Free and Dishwasher Safe, Portable and Foldable Travel Bowls-with 4-Color Carabiners Per Set
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$10.99
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Blueberry Pet 19 Colors Durable Classic Dog Leash 5 ft x 5/8", Lavender, Small, Basic Nylon Leashes for Dogs
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Last update on 2018-09-24 at 19:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Final Word

Growing up with a dog made me very conscious of all the creepy-crawlies that they can pick up. One of the reasons I love Boxers so much is how their short coats make it easy to check for ticks. I can’t imagine how much labor goes into checking a Great Pyrenees every night! I have my property treated, and I also have another secret weapon: the hens! Letting the girls out to peck around the yard means that many of the insects that do show up get eaten very fast. In addition, Janice and Leroy get their prevention medicine, and I’m religious about checking for ticks, mostly because they like to snuggle and I don’t want ticks on me.

These nine facts about Lyme disease can really bring to light how serious it is to do something about these pests. The disease could have no impact on a dog at all – or it could be life-threatening. That range of possibilities is pretty scary. You can use these tips on how to keep your property and dog safe from ticks, to help prevent the chance that Lyme disease will ever impact your dog.

Remember that if you ever see your dog acting like it is hurt, acting scared or aggressive out of nowhere, or acting lethargic and unwilling to eat, they may need to go to the vet to be tested for Lyme disease. The test may not lead to a treatment, but it will lead to more information that you can use to make better decisions for your dog’s life.

Related Content:

Protecting Your Dog from Ticks
Collars, Drops, or Shampoos: Which Flea and Tick Remover is Right for Your Dog (Video)
7 Tools for Keeping Your Dog Flea-Free
9 Things to Consider When It Comes to Fleas on Your Dog (Video)

Sources:

http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/lyme-disease-what-dog-owners-should-know

https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/resources/brochure/lymediseasebrochure.pdf

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lyme-disease-in-dogs-10-things-you-need-to-know/

http://pesthacks.com/how-to-keep-ticks-off-dogs/

https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/in_the_yard.html

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