May is Lyme disease awareness month in Canada. Lyme disease is a bacterial illness that affects both humans and pets. It is most commonly spread through the bite of an infected tick, which like to occupy wooded and grassy areas like Edmonton’s River Valley. If the disease spreads through the body it can have devastating effects. The unfortunate thing about Lyme disease in dogs is that it is fairly common and can easily go unnoticed.
What does Lyme disease look like in dogs?
Lyme disease bacteria tends to localize in a dog’s kidneys and joints. This causes symptoms such as:
- Appetite loss
- Swollen joints
- Difficulty moving
- General pain
When a tick bites a human, it may leave a characteristic bulls-eye rash that makes early diagnosis much easier. This rash does not develop in dogs, which makes Lyme disease more difficult to detect. Additionally, some pets may be infected with Lyme disease for up to five months before showing symptoms, and as pet parents, we know that our pups are masters at hiding their pain. This is why it is all the more important to learn how to prevent Lyme disease.
Prevention for pets
- Use tick preventative products. There are many options out there including topical ointments, pet-friendly sprays, shampoos, collars, and pills.
- Talk to your veterinarian about whether you should vaccinate your pup against Lyme disease.
- When possible, avoid areas where ticks are more likely to be found. This includes wooded areas, tall grasses, and marshes.
- Do daily tick checks on your pet! This involves feeling for small bumps under your dog’s fur. A tick check can simply be done by running your fingers or combing through your dog’s coat while applying gentle pressure. The key areas to look at are under the front legs, between the back legs, between the toes, and around the collar, tail, and eyelids.
- If you find a tick in your dog’s fur, remove it as quickly as possible. The steps for removing a tick can be found here.
Just like our pets, humans get Lyme disease from being bitten by an infected tick. Dogs cannot pass Lyme disease directly to us. One way to help prevent Lyme disease for humans is to cover up while in tick territory. Wearing long pants and long sleeves can greatly reduce your chances of being bitten while out on a dog walk in Edmonton. While performing your tick check on your pup, you should check yourself too.
Do you need to worry?
There is no doubt that Lyme disease is serious, however, most ticks are not infected and will therefore not cause the disease in you or your pets. In 2017, only two percent of ticks submitted to Alberta Health were positive for Lyme Disease. Nonetheless, taking preventative measures against tick bites and Lyme disease is crucial to protecting the health of you and your fur babies.
At Dog Jogs we are on our way to having our whole team certified in Pet First Aid. Our team knows the steps for preventing Lyme Disease while dog walking or jogging in the Edmonton River Valley. You can have confidence knowing your pup is in good hands with Dog Jogs, you will not be tick-ed off!