Who should worry about ticks?

The prevalence of ticks and tick-borne diseases is rapidly increasing in New York. Any pet who has access to the outdoors, even just in the backyard, may be exposed to ticks. People can also bring ticks inside on their clothes, and outdoor dogs may bring ticks and other parasites back into the house where indoor-only pets (like cats) may be affected. One of the most common consequences of a tick bite is Lyme disease. 

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection that is carried by ticks, particularly deer ticks in upstate NY. Dogs that spend much of their time outside in the yard, in parks, or running around a farm are most at risk for getting Lyme disease. However, even pets that only walk outside long enough to do their business can contract Lyme. People can also contract Lyme disease from the same ticks, so it is very important to check yourself and your pets for ticks after spending time outside. 

What are the signs of Lyme?

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Arthritis
  • Shifting lameness
  • If left untreated Lyme can cause life-threatening kidney failure and very serious joint disease

How is Lyme diagnosed?

  • Blood testing (4DX) in the clinic
  • Confirmation blood test (C6) to check the level of infection

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?

  • Since Lyme is caused by a bacterium, a full month of antibiotic therapy is used to treat the infection in dogs.
  • Therapy to assist with pain, kidney disease, lameness, and lack of appetite that can accompany the Lyme infection.

How can I prevent Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases in my pets?

  • Year-round tick prevention (at Lake Road Animal Hospital, we recommend using Bravecto, Seresto collar, or Nexgard for dogs or Revolution PLUS or Bravecto for cats)
  • Lyme vaccine for dogs (a two vaccine series to ensure the best protection and then yearly boosters to remain protected)
  • Check yourself and your pets daily for ticks. Lyme disease is transmitted in 24 to 48 hours, but there are other tick-borne diseases that may transmit in as little as 3 hours to your pets.

What tick preventative is best for your pet?

  • Bravecto is an oral product for dogs and a topical for cats. This preventative gives 3 months of flea and tick protection.
  • Seresto is a flea and tick preventative collar and can be used for either cats or dogs. This gives up to 8 months of protection but is not recommended for pets who are bathed or who swim more than once per month.
  • Nexgard is an oral product for dogs and gives one month of flea and tick protection. This product is best for growing puppies since they may quickly outgrow their Bravecto size before the 3 months are up.
  • Revolution PLUS for cats gives one month of protection against fleas, ticks, ear mites, and also provides monthly intestinal deworming

The variety of products ensures that you can find the best fit for your pet. We can help you find the right product for your pet’s needs and lifestyle. Ticks become dormant in the winter but can become active at just 36 degrees, so they can still be a threat any time the winter weather thaws. Year-round tick prevention is incredibly important for the health of your pets!

What should I do if I find a tick?

  • If you find a tick on your pet or on yourself, it’s important to remove the entire tick. If the body is removed and the mouthpieces remain under the skin, bacteria can still be transmitted, though mouthpieces typically migrate out on their own.
  • A Tick Twister allows for easier removal of the entire tick. This can be used on pets and humans.

Not every tick bite leads to Lyme disease, but if you find a tick on your pet, it is best to call your veterinarian. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding your pet’s health.

Written by Rebecca Burns, LVT