April is Lyme Disease Prevention Month and a great time to learn how to keep your pet tick-free. Lyme disease, the most common tick-transmitted disease, is a bacterial infection that can cause serious complications and fatalities if untreated. While most prevalent in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest regions of the U.S., there have been cases in all 50 states. Ticks can also carry a host of other potentially dangerous diseases, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis or dog fever. Ticks can live year round in many areas (especially areas where year-round temperatures stay above 40 degrees) and can be brown, black, or even tan. While commonly associated with woodland areas, ticks can live in any number of places, including urban parks, trails, and backyards.
Talk to your vet about tick prevention recommendations; they may recommend a monthly pill, coat treatment, collar, or even vaccination to help prevent tick attachment. Frequent grooming and daily inspection of your pet’s coat, feet, and ears are the best ways to know if your pet has been bitten. If you find an attached tick, use tweezers to grip the tick as close to your pet’s skin as possible and steadily pull the tick straight out (do not twist). You can also purchase tick removal tools to make the job easier. If you’re not comfortable removing ticks on your own, don’t hesitate to contact your vet for assistance. Lyme disease can be transmitted within 24-48 hours of a bite so prompt attention is critical.
Symptoms and Treatment
The symptoms of Lyme disease can vary, but include a lack of appetite, depression, fever, breathing difficulties, swollen lymph nodes, arthritis, and lameness (often intermittent or shifting from one leg to another). Some animals will show no symptoms at all while the worst cases of Lyme disease can result in devastating kidney failure. If your vet concludes that your pet has Lyme disease, they may prescribe antibiotics or other treatment and will want to keep a close eye on your pet to watch for potential relapses.
Contact your vet today to make sure your pet is protected from ticks this season.
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