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Canine Library: Diseases

Preventing Lyme Disease

Dog owners should be wary of any tick they find on their dog.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that is carried by ticks. Lyme disease usually causes a generalized arthritis, but it can also trigger kidney, heart or even brain syndromes.

Researchers once believed that only the deer tick was capable of transmitting Lyme disease to dogs, but new evidence shows that other ticks (such as the Lone Star tick) may be culprits as well. Since tick identification is nearly impossible unless you are an entomologist, you should assume that any tick you see is a potential carrier of Lyme disease.

Tick control is the major means of preventing the disease. You should talk to your veterinarian about implementing a good flea- and tick-control program. If you see a tick on your dog, grasp the tick with a tissue and pull gently until it comes loose. Then drop it into alcohol or flush it down the toilet.

An approved Lyme disease vaccine is available for dogs. Ask your veterinarian about the status of the disease in your area. In some areas, it is almost unknown and vaccination is probably not warranted. But if ticks are common in your area, or if your dog accompanies you on hunting, hiking or camping trips to tick-infested areas, vaccination would minimize its chances of acquiring the disease.

Author(s): Wilcox, Bonnie, D.V.M.
Publication: Dog Fancy
Issue Date: September 1993

Canine Library: Diseases