'Tis the season of fun and frolic, backyard barbecues, walks through the woods and time lingering in the park.
‘Tis also the season of ticks and Lyme disease.
You do not have to go upstate or even to the suburbs to find ticks, and especially the tiny deer tick that carries Lyme. Prospect Park, Ft. Greene Park and all the parks in Brooklyn are laden, especially after the fairly mild winter. When it comes to Lyme disease, dogs have three advantages over humans.
There are two rather effective canine vaccines available through your veterinarian. These do not 100% protect but any cases that do develop in a vaccinated dog are significantly milder.
Dogs can either be treated for tick prevention with a collar or a topical such as Front Line or Advantix. Each vet has a particular preference so follow his or her professional advice.
Lyme disease in canines is most often asymptomatic. This means they don’t even get slowed down by the disease. However, the bad side of asymptomatic canine Lyme is it can still develop badconsequences such as kidney problems and arthritis.
So a check with your vet at this time of year is a good thing. Be sure that pup has been tested for Lyme to rule out an asymptomatic case of the disease. If pup has it, a routine course of antibiotics will generally wipe it out completely before damage is done. Discuss your vet’s preference in tick prevention and follow through thoroughly.
Check pup, nose to tail for ticks every few days. A tick that lands on pup takes a day or more to latch on. From that time it is about 48 hours until it injects its disease causing Borrelia. dogs love the attention of a tick-check, so do it! If you find a tick remove it, no matter in what stage (engorged or not) it is. If you have a tick removing tool or a pair of tweezers, use them. If not, remove the tick any way. If the tick has embedded you will probably leave the mouth behind. It will take pup’s natural defenses about a week or two to expel the head. It is not dangerous but there will be a bump remaining until it is gone If you remove a tick relax. If you have taken proper precautions pup is likely fine. But don’t run off to the vet for a Lyme test just yet as it takes about 6 months for positive test. As with everything, take a few wise precautions and then let the good times roll.