Lyme disease is a significant risk this year as in other years, and it can be a serious health problem for your dog. Understanding what it is and how you can prevent it will help you enjoy your summer with your furry friend and make sure that you don’t head home with any kind of accidental hitchhikers.
While it isn’t realistic to think that your dog will never come in contact with a tick, there are a lot of things that you can do to minimize your dog’s risk. Below, we’ll cover 5 different ways to prevent Lyme disease from ticks in your pet and what to do if you find a tick!
How to prevent Lyme disease
A tick bite does not guarantee Lyme disease. If a tick isn’t a carrier, this will just fade with time and heal. However, Lyme disease is often transmitted from ticks to dogs. Or from ticks to humans. This is a serious health condition that should be treated as soon as possible so that it doesn’t create an onset of an unchecked disease.
Preventing Lyme disease means removing a tick as soon as you can and getting it tested to see if it’s a carrier. If it is, treatment can be given quickly, and this will make all of the difference. Don’t wait to remove it until you get to the vet. The timing of the tick removal helps you remove it before the symptoms set in. Lyme disease can take up to 24 hours for transmission, so removing the tick almost immediately can help improve your dog’s recovery! That being said, you can defer to a vet if you are uncomfortable or uncertain about how to do it (for example: if it’s in a hard-to-reach spot or your dog won’t stay still long enough for you to do it properly.) Just make sure that you go in to your vet clinic right away!
Top 5 ways to prevent Lyme disease
Keeping your dog (and you) safe from Lyme disease is going to be about learning how to avoid ticks as much as possible. If you don’t get bitten, there is no chance of Lyme disease!
Avoid the deep woods during hot and humid times
Ticks love hot and humid weather. To keep everyone safe from ticks, you’ll want to avoid deep, thick, close woods during those hot and humid temperatures. Stick to clear walking paths that will be a little easier to see when you are stepping into a possible tick zone. Avoid long grasses and waterline areas, too. Any time you deliberately go into these areas, be ready to check for ticks and deal with them as soon as possible.
Ask your veterinarian about vaccinations
Ask your veterinarian if they recommend a Lyme disease vaccination for your dog. Keep your dog’s other vaccinations up to date for the best protection they can provide. Vaccinations are the best protection against many kinds of pet diseases. Many vets book “flea and tick” appointments right around the springtime for this reason, so it’s definitely worth your time to get their medications up to date.
Use a bug repellent
Dogs don’t require bug spray, but humans do! If you want to protect your dog from ticks, you can look at a clip-on bug repellent that would offer protection without necessarily having to spray them. Don’t just go with anything, though, and always talk to your vet about what the best approach will be! Most vets can recommend various options for helping deter insects, including ticks. That’s technically what “flea and tick” medication is for, after all.
Wear long clothing
In your case, you’ll want to wear long clothing to protect your skin from the ticks directly. It also makes it easier for you to see them if they do hitch a ride. If you are able to cover your dog in safe clothing, such as a rain jacket (complete with little booties), that’s a great idea, too. It’ll offer them the same benefit! Good luck getting them to keep it on, though…
Learn to check all of your dog’s problem spots
Assuming you don’t manage to get your dog into a full-coverage bodysuit, you’ll need to learn how to check their collar line, their ears, nose, face, chin, between toes, paw pads, and more to help you spot a tick as soon as possible. Do this as soon as you are leaving the outdoors area you are visiting, as you won’t want to bring them home with you!
These 5 tips will support keeping you and your dog safe and sound from ticks, and also enjoy your walk or hike a lot more, since you won’t be quite so worried about not knowing where to go or not to go. Awareness is key in these sorts of things!
What to do if you find a tick
So, let’s say that you do all of those things above to prevent tick problems, and yet your dog still gets a bite. It’s okay; it doesn’t mean a huge failure. After all, there’s no such thing as total protection unless you find a way to put your dog in a giant hamster ball. If you do find a tick, here’s what you do:
- Wear gloves to protect yourself!
- Use clean, fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible
(Hold the tweezers sideways against the skin)
- Without squeezing, pull it slowly steadily straight up and off your dog
- Put the tick in a jar or bottle with a moistened cotton ball
- Submit it to the lab for testing
- After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area thoroughly with dog-safe soap
- Thoroughly clean your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
- Never crush a tick with your fingers.
Then apply a dog-safe antiseptic treatment. Do the same for yourself, even if you are wearing gloves — you can never be too safe!
The steps of storing the tick and bringing it into the lab are important. This is what will identify whether the tick carried Lyme disease or not. If it was, treatment can be given easily and quickly as needed to help counteract any infection in your dog. If it wasn’t, your vet might recommend a few ideas to help minimize any rashes, and your dog will be free to go!