When the weather warms, tick season launches into full swing. You want to protect your furry friends, but first you need to know where those nasty critters are lying in wait, ready to pounce on their next meal ticket. Tall grass, bushes, and trees are all potential hidey-holes for ticks. As your pet passes by, they drop from their perch and burrow into Fido’s fur. Here are five tips to protect your pet from Lyme disease.
1. Brush pets after outings and inspect them for ticks, especially if they’ve been running in woods, brush, or tall grass. Keep the grass mowed in areas where your pets play. If you use any type of pesticide in your yard, make sure it’s approved for use around pets.
2. Promptly remove any ticks you find. Wear gloves and use a tick puller (such as the Tick Key tick remover) or fine-point precision tweezers. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible, pull it straight out (don’t crush it or puncture it), and dispose of it in a vial of rubbing alcohol. Swab the bite and your tool with antiseptic.
3. Wash your pet’s bedding and vacuum your home regularly. If you use an indoor parasiticide, make sure it’s approved for use around pets.
4. Talk to your veterinarian about the benefits and risks of the canine Lyme vaccine and ask whether it’s appropriate for your dog. (A vaccine for cats is not yet available.) Ask whether a topical tick repellent or parasiticide, whether prescription or over-the-counter, is also appropriate for your pet.
5. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you see any of the following signs in your pet: swollen joints, lameness, lethargy, fever, or low appetite. Antibiotic therapy is highly successful in animals, but if left untreated, Lyme disease may cause arthritis, heart disorders, neurological impairment (resulting in confusion or aggression), or severe (and potentially fatal) kidney disease.