How to Prevent the Spread of Lyme Disease

Medical articles
Lyme Disease in Pets

Lyme disease is one of those pesky zoonotic illnesses, meaning it can affect both animals and humans. By taking preventative measures with your dogs and cats, you are taking preventative measures for yourself as well.

Lyme disease is spread by ticks and is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Though ticks live outside, they can be brought in on your clothing and in pet hair. Symptoms of the illness can include:

  • Fever

  • Loss of appetite

  • Lameness

  • Joint swelling

Because it can take between two to five months for symptoms to even begin to show, prevention is crucial in keeping them safe.

How to Protect Your Pets from Pests

Avoiding tick-heavy areas, including tall grass and wooded areas, can significantly decrease the risk of crossing paths with tick-borne diseases. Talking to your veterinarian to see if the Lyme vaccine is appropriate for your furry companion is also recommended; if you spend time outdoors with them, chances are they might be a good candidate for it. Last, but certainly not least, use a vet-recommended tick preventative.

Tick prevention products come in several forms, including a chew or tablet, a collar, or a topical method, all of which can be claimed for reimbursement under our Wellness Rewards plan.

  • The chewable method is typically meat flavored so that your pet views it as a treat, and the tablet can be wrapped in their favorite food or treat to get them to take it willingly.

  • The collar system usually lasts for a couple of months and can be worn at all times, including while swimming.

  • A topical method is a liquid or gel that is applied between your pet’s shoulder blades. Pets who like to rub against you or furniture, groom themselves and others, and who have sensitive skin should be monitored if this is used to prevent them from ingesting it as it is toxic.

How to Remove a Tick from Your Pet

If you do happen to find a tick on your four-legged friend (whether you use a preventative or not) it is important to take quick but careful action. Clean the area with rubbing alcohol first, then get as close to the head of the tick as you can with a pair of sharp, pointy tweezers (think more like for splinter removal than for cosmetic uses) and pull straight up. Make sure to clean the area again with more rubbing alcohol to sanitize it. If you do not have your pet on a regular tick preventative, it’s never a bad idea to check in with your veterinarian.

Year-round Prevention is Key

While it’s true that ticks are more active during warmer months, that does not mean they disappear when temperatures drop. In fact, ticks can be found still very much alive in temperatures as low as 32 degrees. Whenever you go for walks or outside to play, be sure to give their fur a thorough look over to make sure an unwanted tick didn’t catch a ride home with you.