Spring and summer are so short in Minnesota that you learn to deal with things like the greater likelihood of a tick bite. You also enjoy spending more time outdoors, especially with your pets. However, it's important to take precautions to protect both the people and pets in your family from the tick-borne virus that causes Lyme disease. Incidents of Lyme disease peak from late spring to mid-summer and are more prevalent in Minnesota and Wisconsin than any other states in the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Washington County, Minnesota and St. Croix County, Wisconsin are both high-risk areas.
Signs of Lyme Disease in Companion Animals
It's important to keep in mind that your pet may not exhibit signs of Lyme disease for several months after being infected with it. This is why it's important to check your dog or cat for ticks daily, even if she doesn't spend a lot of time outdoors. Ticks are tiny and can make it inside your home on the back of another pet or on the clothing of a family member. Although Lyme disease in cats is not nearly as common, avoid becoming complacent about checking all of your pets.
Some of the indications that your pet may have developed Lyme disease include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen joints that feel warm to the touch
- Stiff gait with obvious signs of pain
- Depressed mood
- Lack of appetite
If you notice any of these signs, please schedule an appointment at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo right away. Your pet's veterinarian will run diagnostic tests based on his symptoms. These may include a blood parasite screening, chemistry tests to evaluate internal organ functioning, and/or a fecal, thyroid, electrolyte, or urine test. Treatment typically consists of completing a course of antibiotics and plenty of TLC from you. The earlier we detect Lyme disease in your pet, the faster he can recover from it.
Preventing Lyme Disease in Your Pet
The best way to prevent your pet from developing Lyme disease is to control her exposure to infected ticks. If you do find a tick, remove it immediately with a pair of tweezers. This allows you to remove the entire body in one swift pull. In addition to a daily tick check, the Centers for Disease Control recommends doing the following to reduce the tick habitat in your yard:
- Dispose of old mattresses and furniture that may provide a hiding place for ticks.
- Clear brush and tall grass around the outer parameter of your home and the edge of your lawn.
- Mow your yard at least once a week and avoid keeping leaf piles in your yard.
- Place wood in a dry area and stack it neatly to avoid attracting rodents that attract ticks.
- Place a barrier of gravel or wood chips between wooded areas and your lawn as well as around playground equipment and your patio.
Most importantly, be sure to talk to your pet's regular veterinarian at Cedar Pet Clinic Lake Elmo about the best tick preventive to use based on your pet's species and lifestyle.