Lyme disease is an infection caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. In New Brunswick, these bacteria are spread by the bite of blacklegged ticks (also known as deer ticks). The blacklegged tick can be found sporadically throughout the province, and become active when the outside temperature gets above 4 degrees Celsius. Lyme disease is uncommon in cats, but they can contract the disease and can still carry ticks into your home! At this time there is no vaccination for cats.
Step 1 – Check please!
Going over your dog over each time it comes in from being outdoors, especially hikes in the woods or playing around tall grass. The best way to check is going from nose to tail in a combing motion, making sure to contact every part of the dog’s skin. Ticks like dark areas to hide, be sure to check inside the ears and under collars. Any lumps or bumps on the skin, part hair to exam more closely. If you do find a tick, be sure not to pour anything on it such as alcohol, peroxide etc. The best way to remove a tick is using a tick twister or tick removing device. Pulling the tick out in the direction it’s embedded is more likely to get the entire tick. Checking all pets over when they come in will help reduce the risk of a tick crawling around in your home that could use you as its next meal!
Step 2 – Protection!
Using a tick prevention product will keep those pesky ticks off your pet! These products help to repel or reduce the amount of feeding time a tick has on your pet. A tick needs to feed for over 24 hours before transmitting Lyme to its host. Tick prevention comes in either tablet form or topical that goes directly on the skin. Ask your veterinary team which product would best suit your pet. Don’t forget, always repeat step 1!
Step 3 – Vaccinate!
Dogs that are in the woods or outdoors for extended periods of time, are at a higher risk of picking up ticks, and should be vaccinated. If there is wildlife present that travels through the dogs usual outdoor areas, they should also be vaccinated as ticks often drop off wildlife, even if not in tall grass. If you feel your dog is at risk, or maybe you are unsure, talk to your veterinary team to discuss the level of risk.
Taking these 3 steps throughout tick season will help keep you and your pets free of ticks and their diseases!
Written by Lyndsay McShane