PREVENTING AND GETTING RID OF THE PESTY TAG-A-LONGS
Having lived and traveled throughout the north-midwest, I’ve been there plenty of times- with both myself and my dog. Not only are these little pests irritating and sometimes difficult to remove, they have the potential to carry diseases like Lyme, a bacterial infection that can cause organ failure in your dog if left untreated. Here are three steps I’ve found to help to make sure your dog -and you- stay healthy and critter free on your next outdoor adventure.
If you think you will be in areas where ticks, especially deer ticks, are common talk you your vet. Heavily wooded areas and damp areas such as lakes and river beds are the most common homes of these pests.
Veterinarians now offer a vaccine for Lyme disease. Talk to your vet about gettting this vaccine for your dog.
Common flea medications such as Frontline or NexGard offer tick prevention as well. If this is something you are interested in, tell your vet you are looking for a flea treatment that also offers tick prevention and see what brands they would recommend for your dog.
Vet’s will also do regular Lyme disease checks for your dog. If your vet doesn’t already do it as a part of their regular yearly exam, ask them to include a test.
If you find a deer tick- or if you aren’t sure if it is a deer tick- save the tick and take it to your vet. They can test the tick for Lyme.
While preventative care is important, it is not a 100 percent solution. Knowing what to look for always helps.
Deer ticks are the only ticks that carry Lyme disease. Familiarize yourself with what different ticks look like.
When you have a deer tick bite, even after they fall off they will leave an easily recognizable bullseye rash. Keep an eye out for this after you have been hiking or spending time outside with your pet.
And know the symptoms. Dogs with Lyme disease will start to act achey or arthritic, often shifting their weight from leg-to-leg. They will act lethargic and uninterested in normal activity. If you suspect your dog is behaving this way call your vet immediately.
It takes 24 to 48 hours for a tick to transfer Lyme disease to your dog. That means that if you catch it early enough, you don’t have to worry.
Brush or bathe your dog after spending extensive time in woods or grassy areas and check for ticks.
Never remove a tick with your hands, use tweezers. Some places recommend heating the tip of the tweezers with a lighter get the tick to release. While I’ve never tried this, I do find that having someone help hold your dog still while you remove the tick is the magic trick!
Fortunately, Lyme disease in dogs is easily treatable with antibiotics when caught early enough. These little vampire pests aren’t as scary as they seem, especially when you take the right steps to prevent complications and care for your dog.