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Lyme Disease Lyme disease has long been recognized in
humans, but Lyme disease in pets are becoming an
increasing concern as more dogs spend time with us
outdoors and are exposed to the main carriers of Lyme
disease, the deer tick. Dogs are exposed to Lyme disease
when they are bitten by an infected tick that stays attached
for 48 hours or longer. Ticks can become infected and
transmit the disease in two of their four life stages, the adult
and the smaller nymph.
While the best prevention for Lyme disease is tick control, it
can be difficult to ensure that pets remain tick-free every
day, year-round. Ticks can become active even during the
winter during a warm spell or in a warm, sheltered area
outdoors such as leaf litter, wood piles, wooded areas and
places visited by wildlife. Even the most effective tick
preventatives won’t work 100% if they’re late or missed. For
pets whose lifestyle includes hiking, camping, or living in
Lyme endemic areas, vaccination can help cover any gaps
in protection.
Over the last 5 years, over 250 dogs in Peoria County have
tested positive for exposure to the bacteria that cause
Lyme disease. We recommend year-round flea and tick
prevention for all of the pets we see. This is even more
important for dogs who live or play in areas where deer
ticks are found. Though dogs can be exposed to Lyme
disease and not develop symptoms, the bacterial infection
can cause joint pain, fever, swollen lymph nodes, loss of
appetite, or even kidney failure and death.
Dogs who have had the Lyme vaccine in the past should
have it boostered annually. Dogs who have never had a
vaccination receive two injections of the vaccine 2-4 weeks
apart, then annually.