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Yes - They Carry Lyme's Disease!

Looking at your pooch’s adorable face, the last thing you’re thinking of would be tick-borne diseases. But however cute your dog may be, without the proper care he can be infected with ticks that can carry diseases. Heck, ticks are so ingenious that even with the cleanest environment, daily baths and monthly vet checks, they manage to infest a dog’s body. Alarmingly, ticks can harbor diseases that can not only affect a dog but can also affect humans.
One such disease is Lyme disease caused by bacterium Borrelia burgdorferri, the most common tick borne disease in the northern part of America and in Europe. The infected ticks usually can be found in wooded, bushy and grassy areas and they are most active during summer months. The ticks usually attach themselves to deer, but they can also infect other animals. They are often no bigger than the head of a pin which makes them very hard to spot. When they gorge on blood, they swell up to many times their size and they also transmit the bacteria to their host.

These ticks can attach themselves to your dog, especially if your dog has been playing outdoors where the ticks naturally reside. They may also get it from contact with a dog that has been playing outdoors. When your dog has infected fleas, these fleas can move on to biting you, and you may get Lyme disease.

The first signs of Lyme disease include a rash which can be as small as your fingertip or as big as 12 inches in diameter. One of the defining characteristics of Lyme disease is that the rash has a bull’s eye pattern, a red center with a white halo and then a red ring on the outside. This rash may not immediately appear: it can take somewhere between a few days to a month for it to be visible. Other symptoms of Lyme disease include flu like symptoms: fever, headache, fatigue, weakness, chills and headaches. You may also experience joint pain that usually affects the knees, but can move from joint to joint. In more serious cases, it can cause neurological problems such as meningitis, Bell’s palsy (temporary paralysis of one side of the face), weakness in the limbs, and impaired muscle movements. If the infection is untreated, a person may experience these symptoms months or years after being bitten. This is why it’s important to consult with a doctor at the first sign of Lyme disease.

If you’ve been bitten by a tick, remove it immediately with tweezers around the head. Don’t crush the tick—you might leave the head attached to your skin. Once you have plied the tick out, apply an antiseptic around the area. Usually a tick would need around 48 hours of feeding before it can infect you with Lyme disease, so the earlier it is removed, the better. You can prevent Lyme disease by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when walking in wooded and grassy areas, preferably with your shirt and pant hem tucked in. You should also stick to clear trails and avoid going into grassy and bushy areas. If you’re walking with your dog, you should also keep them in a leash to avoid them from venturing into tick territory.

Insect repellents that contain DEET are also effective in keeping the ticks away. You should also try and tick proof your yard, especially if you live in a wooded area. Prune bushes and keep grass short, and stack piles of wood in sunny areas. Check your dogs and other pets regularly for ticks and have them removed regularly.