How to prevent Lyme disease in your canine companion

If your dog begins limping, won’t eat, and feels feverish, he or she may be suffering from Lyme disease. Maria Esteve-Gasent, assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says the time of year for the highest incidents of Lyme disease in the Northeast and Midwest is spring and summer.

Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness caused by a bacterial pathogen transmitted by blacklegged or deer ticks. The ticks feed on infected animals – mostly wildlife – and on humans and companion animals, which spreads the disease.

Dogs infected with Lyme disease experience brief periods of fever, anorexia and in some instances, arthritis. They may not exhibit any symptoms for several months.

“We can observe kidney failure and heart and neurological complications in dogs,” said Esteve-Gasent. “If left untreated, Lyme disease can be fatal.”

Check your dog regularly for ticks. To remove ticks, use sharpened tweezers and pull them off. If your dog begins to show symptoms of Lyme disease, your veterinarian will prescribe Doxycycline and within a couple of days, your dog should feel better.

Veterinarian Joe Bloom said the majority of flea and tick control medicines on the market work fairly well. He did caution against using more than one product at the same time.

Don’t forget – humans can also suffer from tick bites and develop Lyme disease. Protect yourself when outdoors by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.