While there is nothing better than a day in the wild with your dog, it does come with its risks. One of these is Lyme disease. Most every
outdoorsman is familiar with this tick-transmitted disease, but what you might not be aware of is that it is on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control, Lyme disease is now one of the top 5 infectious diseases for North America with over 30,000 people diagnosed every year.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene pinpointed the most high-risk areas in the United States for the disease. In these high-risk zones, 1 in every 5 ticks collected was infected with Lyme disease. This is scary news for you and your pup. Our own Easton, the brown lab of Regional Sales Manager Josh Miller, was just diagnosed with Lyme disease a month ago. While Lyme is generally not deadly, it can cause chronic fatigue, muscle pain and discomfort. While many patients will be relieved of all symptoms after a month-long dose of antibiotics, about 20% will have recurring symptoms for a lifetime.
Easton’s illness has had an emotional toll on Josh and the entire SportDOG team, so we wanted to share some tips with you all to help prevent this disease in your own dogs.
- Get Vaccinated-Talk to your vet about the Lyme disease vaccination. Depending on your area of the country, your vet may not feel this is a necessary precaution for your dog, but it is worth a consultation, especially if you live in one of the high-risk zones.
- Use Flea and Tick Medication-There are a number of reliable options in this arena. Talk to your vet about which medications are the best for your dog. When choosing a flea and tick medication, make sure it is DVM approved and waterproof. Make sure to read the label to ensure you are giving the right dose to your dog on the right schedule. Failing to follow manufacturer’s instructions may result in reduced effectiveness.
- Brush Your Dog Often-Brushing your dog regularly removes access hair, which can prevent ticks from wanting to bite your dog. Ticks are drawn to warm fur. Ensuring all excess hair is removed makes a cooler environment that is not as appealing to ticks.
- Check for Ticks Daily-Researchers believe that ticks need to feast on a host for 24-72 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Checking your dog daily could mean the difference in a healthy dog, and a hefty round of antibiotics. Make sure to check your dog thoroughly, especially around the neck, armpits and ears.
Following these guidelines can help keep your hunting partner protected from Lyme disease. It is important to note, however, that there is no sure-fire way to avoid the disease. As Josh’s veterinarian told him “sometimes, even when you do everything right, something goes wrong”. Easton was vaccinated, on a regular flea/tick medication schedule and was groomed/inspected regularly. Unfortunately, Josh lives in a high-risk area and things went wrong. Be sure to know the signs and symptoms of Lyme so you can get your dog antibiotics as quickly as possible. Early treatment is the most effective way to ensure your dog makes a full recovery. Top symptoms to look for are uncharacteristic lethargy and pain in the muscles and joints.
We hope everyone enjoys happy and safe hunting. We will keep you posted on Easton’s progress, but we are confident he will make a full recovery and be back in the field in no time.