In North Carolina, the number of dogs testing positive for Lyme Disease is creeping up year by year. If your dog ever goes outside, she’s vulnerable to being bitten by a tick that could transmit bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Here’s what you need to know to protect your dog and your family.

When You Find a Tick. When you come inside, check your dog for ticks, especially around the ears, head, neck, and in between toes. If you find a tick, put on gloves to protect yourself. Although tweezers are better than using your fingers, we recommend using a credit card to slide between the mouthparts of the tick and the dog. There are also special tick removers that prevent putting pressure on the abdomen of the tick which pushes blood back into the pet allowing diseases to move from the tick to the dog.*

Symptoms of Lyme are Different. The first clinical sign of Lyme disease in a dog is not a rash, but pain, fever, and lameness. She may also stop eating and be lethargic. If you notice unexplained limping in your dog, we may test him for the bacteria.

If Your Dog Tests Positive. Lyme disease in dogs generally will not present serious signs, but it can cause kidney failure and arthritis in some patients. Pets should be screened for early kidney symptoms with a kidney panel and urinalysis. Most of the time, we give a course of antibiotics, and your dog will begin to feel better in a couple of days.

Lyme Prevention. Remember that not all heartworm and flea medicines prevent ticks! We recommend Vectra or Simparica, which doesn’t prevent tick bites, but causes them to die after they attach to your dog, and prevents them from transmitting Lyme. There is also a Lyme vaccine.

If you’re worried your pet might have Lyme, or if your dog likes to hang out in places that are tick infested, then let’s talk about the options for you and your pet. We’ll start with tick prevention medicines, then talk about other things you can do to reduce the risk of exposure to this danger that is growing each year.