While most of what you hear about Lyme disease relates to people, Lyme is actually equally common in animals. Over the past week I have heard from three people that their dogs have been severely hit by Lyme disease. One actually had to put their Jack Russell down – the disease had progressed so far that the poor dog was convulsing. Another, who’s owner takes him hiking all the time, now suffers from severe joint pain. A tick infestation should not be taken lightly.
Some of the typical symptoms that you might see you in your dog is a shifting from leg to leg due to pain, or walk with a hunched back. Dogs with Lyme really look like they are in pain. And just like with people, they may or may not have the bulls eye rash and a fever. Blood testing can be done, but is no more accurate that it is with people.
There is a Lyme vaccine for dogs but it is highly controversial. Some studies suggest there are long term side effects from the vaccine which vary from rheumatoid arthritis to acute kidney failure. Thus, many veterinarians will not prescribe the vaccine and suggest waiting until further research is done.
I feel that the best approach to protecting your dog is a three tiered attack. First, make sure that your dog has a safe tick collar. Be careful though as some are more toxic than others and can potentially do more harm than good. The second tier is to make sure that you brush your dog’s coat every day. Remember that you are not only looking for the adult deer ticks but for the nymph ticks too. They are only about as big as the period at the end of this sentence and very difficult to see. Finally, take the attack to the source. Kill the deer ticks in your backyard. A barrier yard spray and Tick Tunnels can help kill the ticks in and around your yard. Don’t wait for your dog to get sick to take action. Keep your pets away from tick infested areas, check them daily, and stay healthy and tick-free!