How to Prevent Lyme Disease in Pets

Dog and cat

Lyme disease is an illness that can affect animals and humans and is a common disease across the United States. It is a disease caused by bacteria that hitches a ride on ticks. The disease takes time to transmit and then show signs of infection, so it is always best to prevent infection whenever possible.

Prevention is Best

People that have pets should commit to using reliable products, including vaccines, that prevent ticks. If you are not sure about what to use, talk with your vet for suggestions and recommendations.

Certain places are more prone to ticks, and your vet will be able to let you know if you should also vaccinate your pets against Lyme disease. Ideally, you want to avoid ticks if you can. Wooded areas, tall grasses, and marshes tend to be where ticks live, so if you or your pet find themselves in a place like that, you will want to do a thorough check after potential exposure.

Removing Ticks Correctly

If you see a tick on your pets, you need to remove it as quickly as possible. Have the right supplies on hand to get the tick off you or your pet without any issues. You will need pointy tweezers, gloves, rubbing alcohol, a jar with a lid, and antiseptic wipes. If you need to keep your pet distracted while you remove the tick, you may also need treats to help with that.

Before removing the tick, put on the gloves. Latex, vinyl, or rubber gloves are best because you need to protect yourself, too. Keep your pet calm, and if you have someone to help you, that is even better. With the tweezers, grab the tick as close as possible to your pet’s skin. Do not pull the tick out at an angle, or you risk leaving part of the tick in your pet.

Be careful not to squeeze or crush the tick, and once it is out, check to make sure the tick is complete. If any parts are left in your pet, see a vet to remove the rest. Disinfect the site with alcohol or antiseptic wipes. Put the tick in a jar with some alcohol to kill it. You may or may not want to keep the tick for your vet. When in doubt, call and ask.

Lyme Disease Symptoms

You may not see any signs for up to five or six months after the initial infection. When signs and symptoms start to show up, you will want to minimize any possible damage your pet may experience if left untreated.

Signs include lethargy, lameness, a loss of appetite, swelling in joints, pain, and a fever. Some of these symptoms may come and go lasting a few days, going away, and returning later. Just because it seems to go away, or in the case of joint swelling, migrates from one place to another, that does not mean you should dismiss it.

While Lyme disease is not contagious between pets or animals to humans, that does not mean you and other exposed pets should not be tested. Contact Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center at 480-595-8600 to make an appointment at our office in Cave Creek, Arizona.