Lyme Disease: in humans it is known to cause that typical bull’s eye red circle at the point of exposure with the tick, in dogs the site is not very recognizable and can go undetected until signs of the disease start to manifest about 2-5 months later.
Preventing Lyme disease in dogs takes some effort, but it is very achievable. I would say that there are three main ways to prevent Lyme disease, ideally all three methods should be incorporated in order to take an active role in preventing this debilitating disease from occurring.
Three Ways to Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs
1) The Lyme Vaccine
Having worked at an animal hospital, I can say that one of the most vital preventive measures is to vaccinate your dog against Lyme disease. This applies especially for dogs living in Lyme affected areas. All owners should be aware though that no vaccine is 100%, so this is why I recommend other preventive measures to be incorporated.
Puppies can be vaccinated for their 1st Lyme vaccine around 12 weeks. They will afterward need their 2nd Lyme vaccine approximately 3-4 weeks later. Once 1st and 2nd Lyme vaccine are received then they can get their annual Lyme vaccine every year thereafter.
2) Topical Products
These are usually topical products that are applied monthly between the shoulder blades of your pet. Common products are Frontline, Bio Spot and Advantix. Advantix should not be applied on your dog if you share your household with cats since it can very toxic to cats.
These products usually work by repelling and killing ticks within 24-48 hours.
3) Carefully Inspecting your Dog
Last but not least inspect your dog. If ticks are removed within 24-48 from your dog, chances are slim your dog will get Lyme disease. This is because it takes 24-48 hours for the spirochete to transmit the disease.
Carefully inspect your dog after going outdoors, remember to check everywhere and do not forget to check between toes, under ear flap and under the tail.
Should you find a tick, arm yourself with gloves, tweezers and a container full of alcohol. Never remove a tick with bare hands. The tick’s secretions may carry the disease.
So wear your gloves and try to pull the tick off by grasping it’s head and using an upward motion. Do not jerk or twist the tick. You do not want further irritating secretions to be excreted. Once the tick is taken off put it in the bottle with alcohol. Do not flush the tick down the toilet. The tick will survive the trip and attach to another animal or person.
How to Prevent Lyme Disease from Progressing
Should your dog exhibit signs of Lyme disease, have him seen by a veterinarian promptly. Recognizing these signs promptly should lead to a better prognosis. Dogs affected by Lyme disease will show these signs usually within 2-5 months following exposure with the infected tick. However, some dogs may exhibit little or no signs sometimes. Here are typical signs that may suggest Lyme disease:
*Swollen, warm joints
These symptoms may appear subtle at first and then increase over 3-4 days. A dog may limp slightly on one day and then a few days later may categorically refuse to walk around. The affected limb is usually a foreleg and there may be lymph node swelling in the affected leg.
The fever is usually around 103 degrees.
*Refusal to move
*Loss of appetite
As we can see Lyme disease can be much more than a disease that causes lameness and limping. If allowed to progress it can affect the central nervous system and vital organs as heart and kidneys. So preventing this disease from occurring is preferable to preventing this disease from progressing.
Lyme disease is a tick borne disease that can have devastating effects should it go untreated or discovered at its late stages. In most cases, dogs recover uneventfully by giving a 21 day course of Doxycycline. However, is some cases the nerve and joint damage may be permanent.
Prevention is the best form of defense to spare your dog from this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease.