As COVID-19 consumes all of our thoughts as humans, we need to remember that our pets are still at risk of other devastating diseases that could be right under our noses. April is traditionally “Prevention of Lyme Disease in dogs” month but it is being overshadowed by COVID- 19 this year. Although this is not on anyone’s current news feeds, I still believe it is important that we are aware of the risk that ticks can cause to our pets. You may be sheltered in place but if your pet still goes outside, he/she is at risk. In addition, once our shelter in place is lifted, you will be hiking and walking again and the ticks will be waiting to bite!
Ticks will bite anything that has a blood supply, however dogs and horses are more likely to contract Lyme disease than cats. This is probably because cats are such persistent groomers, so they are more likely to remove any ticks from their bodies before the bacteria can invade. If your horse or dog begins to show lameness, lethargy, fever, decreased appetite or just doesn’t seem right after you have removed a tick, or if they could have been bit by a tick, make sure you inform your veterinarian. Just like in people, some animals show more signs of illness than others but you don’t want to overlook the possibility of Lyme disease if your animal is ill.
It’s also important you make sure your dog doesn’t bring ticks into your home and expose you to ticks. Doing a tick check should be a daily routine after your dog has been outdoors. Lyme disease can cause many problems in the human body from neurologic issues, joint/ muscle pain, headaches, chronic fatigue and much more. Lyme disease is extremely difficult to diagnose so prevention is always best. Aside from doing a regular “tick check”, you should apply tick repellant products to your dog every month (if you live in a tick infested area, you may want to consider using 2 products- one topical and one as a collar).
I realize everyone is focused on COVID-19 but as a Lyme disease patient myself, I know that we cannot forget to protect our pets and ourselves from other diseases in our environment.
Stay safe out there!