Lyme Disease Prevention in Dogs

Lyme disease is a constant threat in Connecticut for both dogs and humans. Transmitted by the deer tick, or black-legged tick, Lyme disease can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated properly. Symptoms in dogs can include lameness, swollen joints, fever, fatigue or lethargy, and vomiting. Lameness with Lyme disease can sometimes present as “shifting lameness,” meaning it appears to move from one limb to another, or come and go. Dogs will not show the “bulls-eye” rash that humans exhibit. It is important to remember that not all dogs will show symptoms, so prevention is the key to protecting our dogs.

Luckily, many things can be done to cut down on the risk for Lyme disease for all members of the family. The first and easiest thing to do to protect your canine companion is to talk to your veterinarian about the Lyme vaccine. Discussing your dog's lifestyle will determine if your dog should get this vaccine. Another easy prevention method is a topical tick control. There are many options on the market, so again, discuss with your veterinarian before beginning a preventative program to ensure you are using the most effective one.

Proper landscaping around your home will also go a long way towards preventing tick populations in living areas. Clear tall grasses and brush around your yard to cut down on tick habitats. Place a three foot wide barrier of either wood chips or gravel between lawns and surrounding wooded areas. This will restrict tick migrations into the areas your family frequents most. Mow your lawn often and keep leaves raked. Finally, cut down on rodent hiding places, such as wood piles and stone walls, and vegetation that will attract deer. Keeping wildlife that transmit ticks out of the yard will reduce the risk that one will fall off in an area your dog will be in.

Checking your dog daily for ticks will also help decrease the risk of Lyme disease, because Lyme disease can only be transmitted to your dog after the tick has been attached for 48 hours. If your dog hikes or plays in wooded areas, check him or her immediately afterward. Using a comb on thick haired dogs will ensure you do not over look any. If you do find a tick, promptly remove it. It's important to remember that ticks carry more than just Lyme disease, so reducing your dog's exposure to them will help keep him healthy!

For more information on tick-borne diseases in your area, visit