How To Deal With Lyme Disease In Dogs?

Are you avid outdoors person? Does camping, hiking, and kayaking sound like an exciting time to be had? If so, I’ll bet my left arm that you’ll be taking your Fido along with you! Am I right? (I bet I’m right)

But hold up now!

Before you go running off on your adventure together, there is something you need to be aware of, for Fido’s sake. It’s called lymes disease.

What is lyme disease?

lyme disease for dogsI don’t mean to sound like I’m pre judging your intelligence, but let me assure you right off the bat that this disease has nothing to do with lime, the fruit.

What lyme disease is however, is a disease spread by ticks, more specifically, the common deer tick. The dogs most likely to be exposed to potential infection from the deer ticks are any dogs that are regularly outside in wooded areas. Can dogs get lyme disease you may ask? YES!

So if you’re one of those outdoorsy folk who like to trek long hikes outside during the summer with faithful Fido at your side, listen up!

How can I prevent Fido from getting lyme disease?

When it comes to preventing the spread of lyme disease, there are 3 steps you can take to ensure you’re protecting your outdoor companion:

  1. Vaccination
  2. Tick preventatives
  3. Tick removal

The first 2 options you can do at the vets office, while the last one you can do at home. I personally suggest placing emphasis and priority on the first 2, while leaving the third option as a final option.

Vaccination

Given that lyme disease won’t at all be prevalent in dogs that are more city based or stay indoor, the lyme disease vaccine for dogs is an optional vaccine that you will need to discuss with your veterinarian.

The lyme disease vaccine can be given to your dog starting at around 12 weeks of age.

  • It should be followed up by 2 doses spaced about 3 weeks apart
  • Maintained(if needed) on a yearly booster

I do feel honor bound to inform you, however, that there are slight disagreements in the veterinary medicine community regarding the lyme disease vaccine’s efficiency.

Some vets have found that despite being vaccinated for it, their patients were still susceptible to the disease. This does not mean, however, that the vaccine is completely worthless, as it still does lower the rate of infection in vaccinated dogs.

If you do decide to go this route, which is heavily recommended, please speak with and consult your veterinarian.

Tick Preventatives

I’m sure you’re already aware of tick preventatives and have Fido on a regular regiment already! I have no doubt that you’re a well aware and responsible pet owner.

But, just for fun, and on the off chance that Fido isn’t, here’s what you need to know about tick preventatives.

Tick preventatives are a super easy method of keeping your pup and doggo tick free. All it takes is a once monthly application of a topical ointment that you can get from your vets office, pet store, or other online sources.

A topical ointment is simply a medication you apply directly to Fido’s coat. Fido doesn’t have to eat it, or have it injected intravenous or subcutaneously. Just part his fur, find his skin, and apply the medication. Think like Moses. Part the red sea. March on through. Done.

Some of the more common ones are K9 advantix or Vectra 3D.

As always though, before you start any medications or supplements, speak with your veterinarian!

Tick Removal

This is the final, at home, an auxiliary method of preventing the lyme disease from getting to your pup.

Tick removal is a delicate process that must be done correctly. I cannot emphasize how important it is to be gentle in this. Do not just grab with tweezers and yank. The head may remain embedded, and cause health issues. Don’t lose your… head over this! hahaha

Rather than doing that, do the following:

  1. Use fine tipped tweezers
  2. Gently but firmly grasp the tick as close to the head/mouth as you can
  3. Pull on the tick in a slow but direct manner.
  4. Do not tug or jerk
  5. Pull the tick away from Fido’s skin
  6. Once the tick is removed, apply antibiotics to the area
  7. Kill tick by drowning in alcohol

If you do end up doing this, it is still a good idea to take Fido to the vet. You never know if there are more ticks you’ve missed that might need professional attention.

How can I tell if my dog has lyme disease?

If all goes bad and poor lil’ Fido does end up with lyme disease, the symptoms of it won’t appear for about 3-5 months after initial infection. But when they do show up, here’s what you want to be looking for.

  • Seeming loss of energy or appetite
  • High fever ranging from 103 – 105 degrees
    • Keep in mind that your pup has a regular temp of 100.5 – 102 degrees
  • Any sort of swelling in the joints
  • In absolute worst case scenarios kidney failure

If you see any of this in your pup, take them to the vet ASAP! There they can run a variety of blood tests and diagnostics to determine IF he has lyme, and the appropriate treatment course needed.

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