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Veterinarian Tips: Lyme Disease Prevention

May 20, 2020

The presence of Lyme disease was first described in canines almost a decade after it was recognized in humans. Now regarded as one of the most common of the tick-borne diseases found within North America, dogs that roam or that spend a lot of time outside of the house run the highest risk of contracting the infection.

Although this information is helpful for pets, it may also be beneficial for pet owners, who frequently are outside with their dogs.

Lyme Disease Prevention

#1. Eliminate the tick’s environment!

Adult ticks are usually found toward the tops of tall or brushy plants in locations that provide: 

  • Humidity
  • Protection from direct sunlight
  • Shelter for host animals, such as:
    • Amphibians
    • Birds
    • Mammals
    • Reptiles.

The following yardwork and landscape methods will remove the tick’s optimum environment:

  • Mow grass frequently
  • Keep bushes trimmed and brush clipped short
  • Rake and remove all fallen leaves, grass or weed debris
  • Store all stacked wood in a dry area that will deter wildlife from creating a nesting area
  • Construct a yard-wide barrier between the lawn and any wooded areas by using:
    • Wood chips
    • Sand
    • Sawdust
    • Crushed stone or gravel
  • Discourage stray animals and wildlife, such as deer and raccoon, from entering the yard:
    • Fence in the area
    • When feeding outside pets, promptly remove uneaten food
    • Store bagged trash in tightly lidded cans and away from the reach of stray or wild animals.

#2. Insecticides

If necessary, treat the environment with an insecticide that bears a label stating the product is safe for use with animals. External parasites can be dealt with effectively by using insecticides not only in the yard, but also in places such as dog runs and kennels. However, clients should be reminded to read all the manufacturer’s directions and to be cautious when handling insecticides as they are a poison.

#3. Use Preventives

Ticks can’t jump, run, or fly, but they can scuttle and climb!

  • When they sense a host walking by, it only takes a second for them to transfer from a plant to the dog:
    • As soon as it’s on the animal, the tick will climb to an area where it will attach and begin feeding
    • It takes 5 to 20 hours after the tick begins feeding before the infection can be transmitted.

Using a preventive protects the dog by killing the tick before the infection can be passed, which is why it is important to implement a monthly tick control program that works to eliminate the parasite. 

#4. Check for Ticks

Whenever a dog has been outside, it is important to check them over to make sure no ticks have hitched a ride! Ticks removed before becoming attached help the dog to remain uninfected with Lyme disease. Two easy ways to look for ticks include:

  • Roll over the entire body with masking tape rollers or sticky duct tape
  • Run through the dog’s hair using a flea or fine-toothed comb.

Be sure to look for ticks in the following areas:

  • Around the ears and inside the ear flaps
  • In the ear canals
  • Between the toes
  • Along the eyelids
  • Along the back line and the base of the tail
  • In the armpit area
  • Along the gum line.

Don’t forget, even if a dog only spends brief periods of time outside, it still needs to be checked for ticks.

Attached Ticks

Clients may not be aware of the following:

  • If an attached tick is found and removed, the tick can be brought to the veterinary clinic and checked to see if it is a carrier of disease
  • If results indicate the tick is positive for an infection, clients should discuss treatment with their veterinarian.

 While a vaccine to prevent Lyme disease is available, it is generally only recommended for animals living or visiting areas where the disease is prevalent and the animal runs a high risk of being exposed to infected ticks. Avoiding Lyme disease through tick control remains the preferred method of prevention.

Your Covetrus sales representative can provide additional information on protecting a pet against Lyme disease. Contact us at: 855.724.3461.

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