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Lyme Disease Prevention for Pets

No one wants their animal companion to experience the pain of disease. Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases, but by taking these steps you can help protect your pet from contracting the disease and developing harmful health issues.

What causes Lyme disease?

The short answer is that Lyme disease is spread by ticks. But the more detailed answer is that Lyme disease is caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacterium is carried and transmitted by ticks, primarily by black-legged or deer ticks (Ixodes scapularis). 

Tick control products

By controlling your pet’s exposure to ticks and tick bites, you can reduce their risk of being infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. There are a great number of brands on the market that can both kill and repel ticks, so whatever your pet’s breed or age, you will be able to find something suitable. Collars, such as Seresto, provide long-lasting protection from both fleas and ticks. Topical applications, such as Frontline Plus, have to be administered monthly but have the convenience of being waterproof.  For dogs, there are oral applications available, including Bravecto Chews. For an overview of the most popular tick control products, take a look at our treatment comparison chart.

Reducing exposure to ticks

In addition to protecting your pet from tick bites directly, you can reduce their exposure to these parasites. The black-legged ticks that carry the Lyme disease bacteria are usually found in wooded or grassy areas, and in marshy areas near lakes and rivers. In your home you can reduce the exposure to ticks by keeping your grass mowed, removing leaf litter and weeds from the lawn and restricting the use of groundcover plants. As mice can be hosts for Lyme disease, keeping your rodent population under control may also help.

Tick checking and removal

If you live in an area with deer ticks, it is important to check your pets regularly, especially after they have been outdoors. When walking in grassy areas during tick season, check your dog as soon as you get indoors. Be sure to check all over your pet, including in and around their ears and between their toes.

If you find a tick on your pet, remove it straight away. The longer a tick is attached and feeding, the more likely it is to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. Ticks should be removed slowly using tweezers. Do not squash the tick while it is attached to your pet, or use things such as nail polish remover or flame. This can cause the tick to vomit into your dog or cat and increase the risk of infection.

Lyme Disease Prevention for Pets

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