Lyme disease can be a nightmare for many mammal species, and especially for dogs. If you catch the condition early, it's quite treatable with antibiotics. But since the early signs are often overlooked, many dogs end up with chronic Lyme, which despite treatment, tends to come back and cause "flare ups" of stiffness, fatigue, and aches from time to time. So, how do you protect your canine companion from this serious infection? Here's a look.
Get him vaccinated.
There is a canine vaccine for Lyme disease, and your vet can administer it during your dog's next appointment. Your dog will need one shot, and then another shot a few weeks later to boost immunity even further. The Lyme disease vaccine will reduce your dog's risk of infection, but no vaccine is 100% protective. So, it's still important to follow the other tips listed below to further protect your dog.
Use a spot-on tick treatment.
Chances are, you already use a medication to keep fleas off your dog. But a lot of the common oral flea preventative medications for dogs do not also protect against ticks. If your dog is on an oral flea treatment, you may want to switch to a topical one that contains an active ingredient pyriproxyfen or fipronil, since these repel ticks and fleas. Make sure you administer the medication once a month as recommended on the package. Usually, you just need to squeeze it onto the nape of your dog's neck.
Keep your yard tidy.
Ticks love to hide out in long grass, weeds, and overgrown brush. So if you keep your yard tidy, you will keep them at bay and can let your dog outside to play with greater confidence. Do not skip weed whacking around fences, bird baths, and other features, since ticks can find a small weed spot easily.
Check for ticks after you leave the property.
You can't do much about ticks on other people's land or in public parks. If you take your dog off your property, always look him over for ticks when you return home. If you find one, grasp it firmly with tweezers, and pull it away from your dog using a straight, firm grip. Do not twist it. Do not try to burn it off or repel it with vinegar, either, as these steps can cause it to regurgitate its blood (with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) into your dog.