Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: San Ramon, Ca.
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Maintain your dog on some sort of tick preventative that is effective in your area. Remember that even a few warm days, even in mid-winter, can bring ticks back out. So if you DON'T use a flea/tick preventative in the winter (I don't) check even more carefully after an outing in warm winter weather.Obviously, the exact protocol for dealing with tick-borne diseases will vary, depending on what part of the country you live in, how prevalent ticks are (drier areas have less ticks). But I think you have to be extra-cautious and know more about these diseases yourself if you live in a part of the country where they are LESS common. The problem is so well known here in N.E., that I think most good, up to date vets are following a similar protocol. In other parts of the country, your concerns about tick-borne disease might be taken too lightly. Every day these diseases are in a dog's (or human's!) body, they are doing irreparable harm. It is REALLY important to treat them early and aggressively.
Check you dog DAILY for ticks. The shorter period of time the tick is biting your dog, the less (that doesn't mean zero) chance of disease transmission.
If your dog shows any signs of lameness after a suspected tick bite, especially if the lameness moves from one joint to another seek medical attention immediately. Likewise, obviously, if your dog seems generally unwell, seek medical attention immediately. Make sure you tell the vet that your dog was bitten. If you know the kind of tick that bit your dog, that can help, so make yourself familiar with the the ticks common to your area.
Even if you dog never has a lame step or an off day, have him checked (via blood test) annually for tick-borne diseases. If he comes up positive, he should be treated.
All 3 of the vets I talked to feel that the Lyme vaccine is relatively useless and causes adverse reactions in too many dogs. Most dogs in N.E. sero-convert for Lyme by the time they are 3 years old. Once they convert, and have been treated, they are better protected than they could possibly be by the vaccine.