Protect Your Pets
If you have a pet, you need to be concerned about ticks—both for your animals’ sake and your own. Dogs, outdoor cats, and horses can get Lyme and other tick-borne diseases if bitten by a tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme bacterium.
How to Keep Them Safe
- Don’t let your pet roam freely in grassy, wooded tick-infested areas. If you go hiking, stick to marked trails.
- Keep your grass mowed, raked and property edges trimmed.
- Remove leaf piles in shady areas around shrubs, under decks, along walls and fences.
- Topical flea and tick collars, shampoos, and other spot-on products vary in safety and effectiveness. Before using, check with your veterinarian.
Check Your Pets Daily
- Check every inch of your pet’s skin and coat for ticks. Not only is this important for your animal’s safety, but ticks on your pet can be a danger to you. An animal’s fur can act as a “tick magnet” and you may be exposed to ticks when you cuddle with your dog or cat, or ride your horse.
- Examine your pet’s ears, around its eyes and eyelids, muzzle and paws (including in between toes), back of neck, under the tail, and groin.
- Run your fingers through its fur and check for any bump that might be a tick trying to hide or attach.
- If you find a tick, remove it immediately and with the same care as used for your family members. (See tick removal.)
Symptoms to Watch For
Signs of Lyme disease or other tick-borne illnesses may not show up for weeks or even months after a tick bite. If your pet exhibits the following symptoms, call your vet immediately.
- lameness that shifts from side to side
- swollen warm joints
- excessive salivating
- decreased appetite
Some pets may not show any symptoms, so it’s important to have your pet examined especially if ticks have been found. The earlier the illness is detected and treatment begins, the better your pet’s chances for a complete recovery.
Vaccinating Against Lyme
If you live in an area where there is a high incidence of Lyme disease, like the Northeast or Midwest, your vet may recommend that your pet be vaccinated against Lyme. However, even if an animal is vaccinated, there are no guarantees they will avoid Lyme disease. Also, the vaccines will not protect your pet from other tick-borne illnesses.
Talk With Your Vet
Talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to protect your pet. At your next vet appointment, make sure to ask about testing for tick-borne diseases, Lyme vaccinations and any tick control products that are available.