How to Protect Your Dog from Lyme Disease

September 22nd, 2014 by Daniel Mudrick

Lyme Disease – The Great Pretender

You’re a responsible dog owner. You want to protect your pet from common diseases and illnesses, to stay happy and healthy.

You need to know how to protect your dog from Lyme disease and its carriers.

What Is Lyme Disease and How Does My Dog Get It?

Lyme disease is a serious disease that your dog can get from infected tick bites. Other dogs and humans with Lyme disease cannot transmit the disease to your dog. All mammals, birds, and lizards can carry Lyme disease ticks.

Lyme disease can infect your dog’s tissues, inflame their joints, cause kidney and nervous system damage, and lead to heart disease. The most common outcome for dogs infected by Lyme disease is recurrent lameness, from joint inflammation. 

Common Lyme disease symptoms:

  • Arthritis
  • Lameness
  • Pain and fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Decreased activity
  • Swollen lymph nodes and joints

This disease can be deadly for dogs in certain cases. If you think your dog may have contracted Lyme disease but you’re not sure, bring them to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Is My Dog At Risk?

You can figure out your dog’s risk by assessing where you live, how often your dog is outside, and their overall health. The most important factor is location, as some areas have a greater incidence of ticks and Lyme disease infections. 

This map, from the Canadian informational website, Canine Lyme Disease, shows where the highest risk areas can be found throughout Canada. You will notice that southern Ontario, particularly the GTA, is at a high level of risk. Locally, our area of Mississauga has been a hotbed of ticks and Lyme disease for 3 years.

Lyme Disease hot zones

Living in the red “endemic” zone means that around 75% of unvaccinated dogs will test positive for Lyme disease at some point in their lifetime.

Other factors that impact your dog’s risk include:

  • You have found a tick on yourself or your dog
  • Your yard is surrounded by tall grass
  • Your dog travels to endemic areas
  • Your dog lives near wildlife areas
  • Your dog goes walking or camping in wooded areas
  • Your dog is exposed to areas with many deer
  • Your dog is not vaccinated

Click here for Canine Lyme Disease’s risk quiz.

What Can I Do to Protect My Dog?

Protecting your dog from Lyme disease is all about preventive care. Preventing ticks (and other parasites) is the best way to keep your dog healthy. We recommend tick control from March to December.

Our top recommended tick prevention products are: a liquid to squirt onto the skin once a month, or a pill that the dog takes once every 3 months. With these prevention medications, any ticks attempting to latch on and infect your dog will die before they have the opportunity to pass the disease. Please ensure that the liquid medication used to prevent/kill ticks is specifically labelled to deal with Lyme disease, as one of the most common treatments does not effectively deal with these ticks.

We also recommend having your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease if you live in southern Ontario in the red endemic area (Gananoque/Kingston, or the north shore of Lake Erie). We are currently monitoring our neighbourhood year by year.

Ultimately, the best thing to do is to talk to your veterinarian about the right way to prevent Lyme disease and tick infestations in your pet. Your vet will be able to talk to you about the specifics of medication and prevention, and they will recommend a treatment that is right for your specific dog.

>> Clarkson Village Animal Hospital will help prevent ticks from infecting your dog with Lyme disease. If you think your dog may have Lyme disease or you’d like to talk about prevention, book an appointment now!

*The advice in this blog is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis of your pet. Please seek a veterinarian’s guidance before attempting treatment of any kind.

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About Daniel Mudrick

I'm the owner and founder of Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Clarkson Village Animal Hospital has always been a dream of mine, and by caring for one patient at a time, the hospital has continued to grow. During those rare times when I'm not at the hospital, I'm at yoga, hiking, gardening, and spending time with my family. I also enjoy reading to stay current on the most recent advances in veterinary medicine.

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