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Tick-Borne Diseases Are a Year-Round Threat to Your Dog

What can you do to keep your dog safe from tick-borne diseases? First, let's look at the different types of diseases your dog can be exposed to:

  • Lyme disease: Is the most common. The bacterial illness transmitted to dogs, humans, and other animals is primarily carried by the deer tick, also known as the black-legged tick or a bear tick.
  • Symptoms include fever, joint swelling, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, lameness, and loss of appetite. 
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Is spread by an infected Rocky Mountain wood tick, an American dog tick, or a brown dog tick. These ticks are primarily found in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, eastern United States, and parts of Canada. Symptoms include poor appetite, muscle or joint pain, fever, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the face or legs, or depression.
  • Ehrlichiosis: Is typically carried by the brown dog tick primarily found in southeast and southwest states. This disease can be severe in German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers. Symptoms include anemia, lameness, eye problems, swollen limbs, and neurological problems.
  • Anaplasmosis: Is transmitted by the deer tick, the western black-legged tick, and a lesser form of the disease can be found in the brown dog tick. Symptoms include lameness, joint pain, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and labored breathing.

Fast Facts:

  • In 10 Minutes: An infected tick can infect your pet with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • 36-48 Hours: Once an infected tick is attached to your pet for 36-48 hours, it can potentially spread Lyme disease
  • 35 Degrees: Myth debunked! Flea and tick season is even longer than you think. Ticks can survive in cooler temperatures and even wake up in winter if the temperature is 35 degrees or warmer outside.

Six easy ways to protect your dog from tick-borne diseases:

  1. Get your pet tested for Lyme disease, heartworm, and intestinal parasites: These simple tests can be done during your next veterinarian visit. You will want to test all your pets before starting them on a prevention plan.
  2. Use a flea and tick preventive every 30 days: This can include a squeeze on topical, collar, or animal spray. Look on the label to check that it kills both fleas and ticks and how long the preventive will last. Not sure which one will work best for your pet? Talk with your veterinarian about the best options based on age and weight.
  3. Get your dog vaccinated against Lyme disease: Vaccination of puppies may begin at 8 weeks, with a booster 3-4 weeks following. An annual booster is recommended. It's important to note that cats can get Lyme disease. There is currently no Lyme disease vaccination for cats, so it's essential to use a flea and tick preventive even on indoor-only pets.
  4. Check all household pets for fleas and ticks daily: Pay close attention to their heads, chin, shoulders, armpits, groin, and upper leg areas.
  5. Use pet-approved flea and tick products: Never spray human tick repellent on your pet. These are toxic if they are ingested.
  6. Yardwork keeps you and them safe: Clear all tall grasses and bushes near your home, place a 3-feet wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawn and wooded areas, mow your lawn frequently, and keep leaves raked and plant deer-resistant plants. This process will help create a "tick safe zone" for you and your pets.