Summer 2015

5 Ways to Protect Your Pet from Lyme Disease

Cats don't get it, but the bacteria can cause real problems for dogs

Lyme disease is transmitted to people, dogs and cats when a deer tick infected with the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi attaches itself to the skin for a blood feast. Cats don’t appear to get sick, but the Lyme bacterium can cause serious disease in some dogs—and ticks can fall off cats to feed on people or other household pets. There are a few simple steps you can take to lessen the chances that your pet will become infected, says Michael Stone, a clinical assistant professor at Cummings School.

1. Take care of your yard. Mowing the lawn regularly will make your backyard less attractive to ticks. Be sure to pull tall weeds and to remove leaf litter, particularly from under shrubs and around the perimeter, because that’s where ticks hide. Secure your outdoor trash cans to discourage rodents that carry deer ticks.

tick-spray_1502. Use a tick preventive on your pet. Make sure the one you choose is veterinarian-recommended and safe for all the animals in your household.

3. Check your animals for ticks daily. If your pets spend time outside, feel them for bumps, parting their fur so you can see where the coat meets the skin. Pay particular attention to under the legs, around the neck and inside the ears.

4. Talk to your veterinarian about a canine Lyme vaccine. Some research suggests that vaccination appears to work well in preventing infection in dogs not previously exposed to the Lyme bacterium. However, it’s still important to use a tick preventative on your pet.

5. Protect yourself. Use repellent, wear treated clothing, shower after being outside and regularly check yourself for ticks. They can hop from you to your pet.

For more information about Lyme disease in animals, including how to safely remove ticks, visit bit.ly/lymefacts.

Top Stories

Gorilla Docs

Wildlife veterinarians work with their African partners to protect the endangered animals

Like Minds

Animal behavior research holds promise for better detection and treatment of autism, OCD and other compulsive disorders in people

The Ducks Are Dying

An outbreak caused by a newly identified virus spawns a regional effort to manage wildlife epidemics

Animal Instinct

The power of our relationships with other species

Editor's Picks

5 Ways to Protect Your Pet from Lyme Disease

Cats don't get it, but the bacteria can cause real problems for dogs

Backyard Battles

The unhappy convergence of suburbia and wildlife

Cancer Genetics

Two malignancies common in golden retrievers share similar DNA markers

Don’t Give Your Cat’s Oral Health the Brush-Off

Veterinarians recommend daily dental care

Itching to Know

Advice for dealing with all things lumpy, bumpy, red and splotchy on your pet’s skin