Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs
Updated: May 2
April is Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs month. It's also when tick populations start to thrive in the Yorktown area. Peak tick season in Virginia is April to September, therefore, it's high time we discuss ways to prevent Lyme Disease in dogs.
The Truth About Lyme Disease in Dogs
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by certain species of ticks. These ticks carry a bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which they deposit into a dog, human, or other animal's bloodstream when they bite. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria travels throughout the body, affecting joints, organs, and more.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease include fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness, stiffness, discomfort, pain, and swelling. Unaddressed, Lyme Disease can lead to kidney failure as well as cardiac and neurological effects. While it is, unfortunately, common in dogs, Lyme Disease is not something to take lightly.
Preventing Lyme Disease in Dogs
Preventing Lyme Disease is about preventing tick bites. When ticks are out and multiplying this time of year, preventing Lyme Disease and the bites that cause it can be a time-consuming and demanding job. All it takes is one tick bite for a dog to develop Lyme Disease therefore consistency is key to prevention.
Tick Treatments & Repellents
As much as I worry that our pets are exposed to chemical and topical pesticides as part of their monthly care regimens, I believe these treatments are necessary, especially in and around Yorktown. Because Virginia is a beautiful, green state, it's also a breeding ground for ticks and their awful diseases.
I highly recommend treating yards to keep ticks away from the entire family. There are natural DIY options like Wondercide's Yard Spray and not-so-natural pesticides applied by professionals. No matter what you choose, having the treatment done regularly is the only way for it to work properly. If you skip treatments, your yard will once again become a hospitable environment for these dangerous critters.
Your veterinarian has likely recommended topical pesticides that keep fleas and ticks at bay. Many of these products serve as repellents (keep them off) and pesticides (kill them on contact) so that ticks cannot bite and stay on your pet. As long as you're using a species-appropriate topical, applying it properly, and staying consistent, these products are highly effective. If your pet has a history of reacting to any of these products, your vet should recommend other options to keep your pet safe.
Safeguarding from Tick Bites
In addition to repellents and topical treatments for our dogs, we can layer protection for ourselves and our families whenever we're out this time of year.
Wondercide, for example, sells sprays that can be used on pets, humans, clothing, and shoes. Unlike Deet, which is toxic to dogs, Wondercide is safe for the whole family.
I recommend spraying yourself, your shoes, and your pet with pet-safe repellent before any outdoor activity. Your dog(s) may not like the smell or being sprayed with it, but it's added protection from picking up a tick and bringing it home.
Avoiding overgrown trails and paths as well as keeping the grass short in your yard is a good way to limit exposure to ticks. Covering your skin when outdoors, tucking loose hangings into your clothing, and checking thoroughly for ticks upon your return also create effective barriers to tick bites.
Medical Attention for Tick Bites in Dogs
Properly removing a tick is a very important part of managing tick-borne illness. If the bite looks infected after the tick is removed, mark it with a black marker so you can keep track of any spreading. If you or your pet are bitten, contact your doctor or your dog's veterinarian immediately for guidance and the necessary next steps.
Because of the prevalence and potential seriousness of tick bites, many doctors will prescribe an antibiotic after a tick bite. If you can, keep the tick that bites you or your pet to have it tested. Based on the tick's ID, your medical provider may choose to skip the prophylactic antibiotics. Yet, a course of antibiotics is small potatoes when you think about how debilitating Lyme Disease can be.
Ticks in Virginia
Lyme Disease is only one of many tick-borne diseases to watch out for in Virginia. Learn more about other health concerns related to tick bites here. Make prevention a priority and always protect yourself and your family from tick bites, especially during the spring and summer months.
At Hearts at Home Pet Sitting, we stay on top of local news related to pet health and the community's spread of preventable diseases. Please follow us on social media to keep in touch and up-to-date.
Hearts at Home Pet Sitting provides premier pet care services including dog walking and pet sitting in the Tabb, Grafton, and Seaford areas of Yorktown as well as Poquoson, Virginia. To learn more about our pet care services, please contact us by email at Hello@HeartsAtHomePetSitting.com or by phone at 757-745-9868.
Stay safe out there, friends!