We're so excited to get outside again after being cooped up indoors most of the winter. What we're not so thrilled about are the ticks just waiting to feast on us and transmit Lyme disease. This is where we need your help. Keep reading to learn what you can do to keep your cat or dog tick-free in the warmer weather.
Spring means spending more time outdoors, for both people and pets. Unfortunately, it also means an increase in Lyme disease. In 2015, the Minnesota Department of Health
confirmed 1,176 cases of Lyme disease in both people and pets. Your pet is completely dependent on you to protect him from this serious disease and to recognize the symptoms if it does occur. It’s important to realize that indoor pets are not immune since ticks that carry the disease can still get into your home.
Finding Ticks on Your Pet
It can be challenging to detect Lyme disease because the first symptoms may not appear until several months after an infected tick bit your dog or cat. That’s why doing a daily tick check is so important. Start at the tip of your pet’s nose and run your hand down the entire length of her body. This includes the underside. You should visually inspect the inside of her ears as well.
Should you find a tick, pull it out with a pair of tweezers. Be sure to pull firmly and swiftly and don’t twist the tweezers as you do so. That could cause you to leave parts of the tick’s body intact in your pet’s fur. Once it’s out, place the tick into a jar of rubbing alcohol to ensure that you kill it.
The most common indications of Lyme disease in companion animals include:
- Loss of appetite
- Marked change in behavior or mood
- Pain and stiffness with movement
- Lymph node or joint swelling
We encourage you to schedule an appointment at Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic right away if your pet displays any of these symptoms. While it doesn’t automatically mean that he has Lyme disease, we need to rule it out or make a diagnosis. We may run a blood parasite screening, chemistry panel, urine, thyroid, fecal, or electrolyte test to determine the level of functioning of his organs. A course of antibiotics is the most typical Lyme disease treatment for pets. We also encourage you to have your pet rest as much as possible.
Tips to Prevent Lyme Disease
It’s not possible to eliminate all risk of your pet developing Lyme disease, but the following can decrease the likelihood:
- Don’t keep old mattresses or furniture on your property since ticks like to hide in them.
- Keep your grass cut short and be sure to clear brush and tall grass from its outer parameters.
- If any wooded area butts up against your property, put up a gravel barrier or use wood chips.
- Keep wood dry and stack it in orderly piles so as not to attract rodents that carry ticks.
- Don’t keep leaf piles in your yard.
- Be sure to use a tick prevention product on your pet. We offer several brands in our online store.
We wish you a happy spring and summer free of Lyme disease. Please let us know if you have additional questions.
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