April is National Lyme Disease Prevention month. Lyme disease is a growing problem in dogs and humans, especially in southeastern Virginia. Did you know that dogs are 50% more likely than humans to get Lyme disease? Although you don’t have to worry about your pet passing this to your family members, you do need to understand that this disease can greatly change your pet’s life
Lyme disease is transferred when your pet is bitten by a deer tick that carries that bacteria that causes the disease. The most common symptoms are lameness, swollen joints, loss of appetite, and fever. Lyme disease can be treated if caught and properly addressed early, but this often isn’t the case. Here are some ways you can help prevent your pet from getting this painful disease.
1. Use a trusted tick prevention. There are many products out there that claim to ward off ticks. Between the grocery store, online, and your veterinarian, what product can you trust? Make sure the product covers multiple species of ticks (as there are other tick-borne diseases to worry about). Also, make sure it’s easy to give. At Grafton Animal Hospital, we recommend Bravecto for dogs, a 3-month chewable to protect against fleas and ticks. For cats, we recommend Revolution, a flea, tick and heartworm product. These products should be used every month, YEAR ROUND.
2. Consider a Lyme vaccine for your pet. Yes, it exists. If you have ever lived in the northeastern United States, this may have been considered a core vaccine where you lived. The vaccine is a 2-dose series and then an annual booster after that and has shown to prevent dogs from getting Lyme Disease.
- Check your pet out daily. Petting your dog is very good for you, and for your pet. Pet your dog every day, going down his legs, tail and his belly. If you feel a little lump that wasn’t there yesterday, take a closer look. It takes many hours to transmit the bacteria from tick to pet, so catching the tick early can prevent this from happening.
- Get your pet’s annual heartworm test. Yes, I know, we are talking about ticks. But, our 4DX Heartworm test also screens your pet for Lyme disease and 2 other tick-borne diseases that are common in this area. So this test is all-around good for your pet.
- Keep an eye on your pet. If your pet starts showing lameness, a reluctance to move, yelps when touched, or increased thirst and urination, these could be signs of Lyme disease. Owners often do not realize their pet has it because the tell-tale lesion seen in humans is covered by the dog’s fur. Report this to your veterinarian at once and have your pet screened for Lyme disease.
The warmer weather is a great excuse to get outside and enjoy all the area has to offer. Protect your pet by preventing Lyme disease. If you have any questions, give any of our staff a call at (757) 898-8433.