They threaten not only the health of our pets, but our human family, too. Ticks carry a number of tick-borne illnesses, the most prominent of which is Lyme disease. At Always Compassionate Veterinary Care, we believe preventing illness is just as (if not more) important than treating it. Taking simple steps to prevent Lyme disease is far better for you and your pet than treating this debilitating disease.
Understanding Lyme Disease
In order to fully prevent Lyme disease in dogs and cats, it’s important to understand where it comes from. Lyme disease is most prevalent in the eastern and western black-legged tick, commonly referred to as the deer tick. These critters feed on rodents as larvae or nymphs, and pick up B. burgdorferi, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, from the small mammals. As adults, black-legged ticks generally feed on deer; however, deer are not known to transmit B. burgdorferi. It is usually at the adult stage that these ticks may feed on dogs, cats, or humans who come across their path, thereby potentially transmitting Lyme disease to their host. Lyme disease transmission does not happen immediately after the tick bites. Instead, it takes from 24-48 hours while the tick engorges itself for the disease to be transmitted.
Preventing Tick Encounters & Disease Transmission
Preventing Lyme disease requires some diligence and forethought, all of which is far easier than treating the disease. Here’s what you can do to prevent tick encounters and Lyme disease:
- Remove tick-friendly debris from your yard such as leaf litter, wood piles, etc. and keep shrubbery and grass well-trimmed.
- When hiking in tick-infested areas, stick to the middle of well-worn paths and regularly check your dog (and yourself!) for ticks.
- Keep your dogs and cats on year-round tick prevention.
- If your dog is at an increased risk of Lyme disease, it might be beneficial to administer the Lyme disease vaccine, which can offer them further protection.
- Always check your dog for ticks after coming in from outdoors—even if they were just in the backyard.
Tick Removal Tips
If your pet does end up having a tick attached to them, it’s important to remove it as soon as
possible. Follow these tips for safe, quick removal:
- Put on gloves or have a paper towel or other barrier between your hand and the tick.
- Use thin tweezers and pinch the tick’s head as close to the skin as possible.
- Pull straight up in a firm motion to dislodge the tick. Do NOT twist the tick!
- If you are concerned about Lyme disease infection, place the tick in a plastic baggie or
- other sealed container to bring to your veterinarian’s office for identification and possible testing.
- Clean the bite area on your pet and watch the area closely for the next few days to ensure an infection doesn’t develop.
For more tips about tick and Lyme disease prevention, please reach out to us, or ask us at your