Preventing Ticks and Lyme Disease in Dogs
By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 4, 2016
Dr. Greenway discusses general info about ticks as well as transmission and prevention of Lyme disease in dogs. Other topics covered in this video include preventive medication, risk, prevalence, when to speak to your veterinarian, blood tests, lyme test, borrelia, lyme disease in people, heartworm testing, 4Dx, fever, joint pain, swollen joints, kidney disease, treatment, doxycycline, long grass, tall grass, parks, ravines, exposure and tick removal.
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with health healthcareforpets.com. I wanted to talk about ticks in general, I think it’s a big deal and we’re seeing a big surge in ticks and also the disease that ticks carry called Lyme disease. Here in Toronto, Canada this is becoming a big problem and quite frankly over the 13 years that I’ve practiced, I’ve seen more ticks in the last year and a half than I have in the decade before it so it’s a real problem and Health Canada is putting out alerts all the time about the increase in Lyme disease across our country.
So this may be occurring in areas where you live as well and you’re going to want to talk to your veterinarian about the risk to your pets about ticks and Lyme disease but here’s the first thing. Ticks are little parasites that can live in groups, they’re usually in tall grasses and fields where your dog may run through. They will get onto the skin in the fur, they’ll crawl around and they’ll embed their head into the skin to have a blood meal off of your dog.
This occurs relatively rapidly within 24 hours and then you’ll usually find them somewhere where the vessels are superficial, maybe around the face or the ears. If you’re in that type of area, you always want to look for ticks. If you know ticks are in your area, look for them every day, at least once a day, because when ticks are embedded in your dog it takes them about 24 hours or more to transmit Lyme disease to your dog. So you want to make sure you’re removing those ticks before they have the chance to do that.
If a tick has been on your dog for more than 24 hours, you’re going want to test for Lyme disease. The first thing to know is that the test for Lyme disease does not come back positive until about 30 days after it’s contracted so you can’t test for it right away. You’re going have to wait about a month before that test could actually tell you that your dog has Lyme disease.
The other thing is that they’re different species of ticks and some can carry Lyme disease and some can’t. Here in Toronto, Canada we’re seeing an increase in the number of ticks that can carry Lyme disease, we’re also seeing an increase in the amount of Lyme disease in those ticks and it’s making it a big problem so this is quite common here and it’s important to address.
Lyme disease in dogs can be a problem. First of all, ninety percent of dogs will actually not have symptoms of Lyme disease and they’ll never have a problem even though they’re Lyme positive but the ones that do have Lyme and become clinical or have a problem with it, it can be very serious. It can show up as many things and it may confuse the average veterinarian because we often don’t think of that as the first thing to look for. You can usually see it as general sickness and fever, enlarged lymph nodes and these symptoms can fit a lot of other diseases so before we think of Lyme disease, we’re starting to do a battery of tests for the more common issues but it can go so far as to cause problems with their joints and even their kidney’s. This can be a huge problem and impact your dog’s health.
So the last point to make is about preventing ticks and there’s a couple ways to do this. One is with monthly medication and you can talk to your veterinarian about that. Again the cost of it and giving your dog a medication, you want to make sure it’s worth it as far as risk of exposure to ticks and you can talk to your veterinarian or other dog owners in your area to know how likely ticks are. The medication works extremely well and there are different kinds so you’ll talk to your veterinarian about that but some of them are great at even preventing ticks from getting on your dog.
You want to keep in mind about the areas where they get them, the tall grasses and thinking about avoiding those areas or maybe even staying on the path or leashing your dog when you’re walking through those areas to prevent ticks.
A final point I’m going to make is ticks, because they carry Lyme disease, if people get them, it can be a disastrous disease for you. Humans really have a hard time managing Lyme disease. It’s difficult to find and diagnose and it’s really difficult to treat and can cause lots of problems throughout your body. So I really encourage you, if you’re in a tick positive area, that you check yourself everyday and make sure that you don’t find any ticks. To tell you honestly, I go out to the grandparents with my three kids, they go running around and everyday I do a tick check and I look those kids up and down to make sure they don’t have a tick and that’s how seriously I take it because it’s an extremely dangerous disease and it’s on the rise. We tell you all these things because we care about your pet, we care about you here at healthcareforpets.com.
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