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Ticks and Canine Lyme Disease

Carling Animal Hospital tick

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdoferi that is spread when an infected tick feeds on the blood of a person or dog. If you find a tick on your dog, it should be removed as soon as possible by grasping just behind its head with fine tweezers (or special tick removal tool) and gently twisting while pulling being careful not to squeeze the tick's body while removing it. Although we think of ticks as being active summer time pests, it is very important to know that ticks are active and will attempt to feed at temperatures above only 4 degrees celsius.

Prevention

There are THREE specific measures that can be used to prevent your dog from contracting this insidious infection.

1) Effective medications are available from your veterinarian that repel or even kill ticks that feed on your dog. Some are applied topically ( K9 Advantix ), while others are given every 1 month ( Nexgard ) or 3 months ( Bravecto ). These medications should be administered consistently in any month where temperatures may rise above 4 degrees celsius. This usually means from March to November in the Ottawa region but may even be all year long.

2) Effective Lyme vaccinations are available for dogs. These are initially administered as two doses approximately 2-4 weeks apart then once a year thereafter.

3) An annual 4Dx test for Lyme disease, Heartworm disease, and two other tick-borne diseases, is recommended annually for all dogs to ensure that Lyme disease has not been contracted in the previous year regardless. If your dog does acquire Lyme disease, effective post-exposure treatment is possible. The best chance of clearing the infection comes with early intervention hence the recommendation to perform this simple blood test annually.

Although the preventative medications and vaccines are very effective, neither offers is 100% protection. For this reason, Carling Animal Hospital's recommendation is to administer a preventative medication, employ the Lyme vaccine, and perform the Lyme test (4Dx test) annually as the best strategy in preventing Lyme disease in your dog.

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