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Pets can get Lyme disease too! How to protect your dog from ticks

Posted October 24, 2018 6:23 a.m. EDT
Updated October 24, 2018 7:24 a.m. EDT

— Even though cooler weather is here, ticks are still trouble in the fall for humans and their pets.

Fur is a perfect hiding spot for pests, and so are piles of leaves that kids love to jump in. Many people don't realize it takes freezing temperatures for days before ticks are impacted or that the diseases they transmit to humans can also impact pets.

Now, Simon is a 120-pound Saint Bernard who's full of energy -- but last year, he was not in good shape. "He couldn't even stand, he had a fever of 106," said Jennifer Lyne, Simon's owner. "I thought he was going to die."

Simon was diagnosed with a serious case of tick-borne Lyme disease. With antibiotics, a steroid and IV fluids, he made a full recovery. Now, Simon's family checks for ticks every day to make sure sure he doesn't get sick again.

"If you find a tick, don't panic, especially if it's just crawling around and not attached," said Catherine Roberts, a health editor with Consumer Reports. "Not all ticks carry disease. And if a tick is embedded for less than 24 hours, it greatly reduces the chance of your pet getting a tick-borne disease like Lyme."

Remove ticks quickly, using tweezers, if needed, and keep an eye on your pet for symptoms -- including loss of appetite, reduced energy and discomfort. Pets should also be on anti-tick medication, which can be recommended by veterinarians.

Another battleground for ticks is yards -- so keep the grass low and clear leaf piles.

Jennifer Lyne is trying a more involved approach -- in her lawn is a setup of boxes with $4 tubes filled with pesticide-laced cotton. The goal is to host animals such as mice and squirrels. The small animals crawl in and take the cotton back to their nests, and experts say the pesticide kills the ticks, not the animals.

Pets can get Lyme disease, too! How to protect your dog from ticks

Called bait boxes, a study of the technique showed they reduced the number of ticks in a treated yard by 97 percent. However, the cost of treatment for an average yard -- which is installed professionally -- is about $800.