Keep Pets Away from Tick Habitats
As with most things, the best protection against Lyme disease is preventing it from ever being transmitted. Ticks have habitats they prefer, and you can greatly reduce the risk of your pet getting Lyme disease by avoiding these areas. If you’re taking you dog out for a walk, avoid walking him in wooded areas, areas with a lot of bushes and fields with tall grass.
Leash Rather than Let Your Pet Run Free
If you’re out hiking with your dog in areas known for ticks, don’t let your dog run free. While he may enjoy running through the grass, brush and woods, he’ll be much more likely to come home with ticks if you let him. Instead, stay on trails and keep your dog on leash to lessen the likelihood of him coming in contact with ticks.
Use a Tick Preventative
If you pets spend any time outdoors, be sure to put a flea and tick collar around their necks. This won’t guarantee they won’t come home with the parasites, but it will reduce the chances of them doing so. Be sure to replace them after the recommended amount of time to ensure full protection. You can also use a variety of other medications and formulas that can help keep ticks away. These include sprays, powders, dips, shampoos, oral medication and spot-on treatments.
Regularly Check Your Pets
Take a few moments to check pets anytime they have spent some time outdoors. You can find them by petting and feeling for bumps. Your pets can’t get Lyme disease until after a tick has attached, so keep an eye out for ones still crawling on fur as well. A good brushing can also help with keeping the blood-suckers from attaching.
Know Where Ticks Like to Attach
While ticks can attach to any portion of your pet’s body, there are more common places to find them than other. When you check your pets, be sure to pay extra attention to the following places:
- Leg Pits
- Groin Area
- Ears (inside and out)
These tend to be the common places where ticks gravitate and congregate on pets. Even so, don’t neglect other areas as they can attach anywhere.
Be sure to bathe your pets on a regular basis, as this will give you a better opportunity of finding ticks since it can be easier to spot them when the pet’s hair is wet. If your pet has been in an area with a lot of ticks, consider bathing him as soon as you return. This can help wash off ticks before they can attach, and you’re more likely to quickly find any which may have attached.
Immediately Remove Any Ticks Found
If you find ticks attached to your pet, be sure to remove them as quickly as possible. You can do this yourself by using a pair of fine-tipped tweezers to grab the tick as close to the head as possible and pulling straight upward without any twisting or jerking motion. Once removed, clean the area with soap and water and rubbing alcohol. The sooner you are able to remove the tick after it attaches, the better chance you have of preventing Lyme disease. The disease won’t usually spread to your pet if it has been attached for 24 hours or less, so immediately finding and removing these pest is important.
Get Your Pet Tested
The next time you go to the vet and have blood work done on your pet, ask to have a Lyme disease test performed as well. The test usually isn’t too expensive, and if your pet does come back positive, it will allow you to begin treatments before your pet starts showing symptoms. Treating the disease early can help prevent some of the more severe symptoms of the disease.
(Photo courtesy of Jon-Eric Melsaeter)