With spring and summer fast approaching most people are taking advantage of the warmer weather to walk their dog outside. Unfortunately, with the nice weather also comes ticks. These are small insects that will attach to animals and people alike. Not only are ticks a nuisance insect, but they are carriers of the dangerous Lyme disease which can be harmful and even fatal to people and animals.


Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is transmitted from tick to person or animal through an infected tick. It is important to note that not all ticks are infected, but it is wise to proceed with tick bites as if every tick is infected to be safe. The tick must be attached to the host for at least 36 hours to transmit the disease. This is why tick removal once spotted is vital to preventing the spread of Lyme. While it is possible to get Lyme disease from an adult tick, it is more common to see the disease transmitted through the nymph, or young tick. These ticks feed during the spring or summer months making them much more common and visible this time of year.


Symptoms

One of the main symptoms of Lyme disease is inflamed joints. In your dog, you may notice that he or she will pull up lame on one or more limbs. It is very common for the pain to shift from limb to limb as different areas of the body become inflamed. This can last for three or four days.  Dogs may also become lethargic, have a fever, lose their appetite, or have areas of the body that are sensitive to touch. If left unchecked, Lyme disease can cause serious damage to the kidney.


Treatment

As long as the dog is not in need of emergency care, most cases of Lyme disease are treated with a strong antibiotic, such as Doxycycline, over the course of four weeks. In some cases, an anti-inflammatory or pain medication may also be prescribed to help the dog with pain from inflamed joints. In rare cases, four weeks is not long enough to eliminate the disease and the antibiotic will be prescribed for a longer period of time. Further, Doxycycline does not cure every case of Lyme disease.  In this event, kidney disease and failure is always an immediate concern.


Preventing Lyme Disease

Luckily, there are a few easy steps to take to prevent the spread of Lyme disease. There are many monthly medications that can be applied directly to the dog's skin that will kill any tick that tries to attach. There are also collars and sprays available that are tick repellents. After taking any type of walk outside, always thoroughly check the dog’s fur and remove any ticks as soon as they are spotted. And remember, it is important to also check yourself!