PERU — Since early spring, almost a dog a day has been diagnosed with Lyme disease at Dr. Craig Russell’s veterinary practices.
That’s a dramatic increase, he says.
“Fortunately, most of them are not showing symptoms of Lyme disease, but they’ve been exposed to Lyme disease,” said Russell, who owns Peru Veterinary Clinic and Westport Veterinary Clinic.
There is no foolproof way to prevent ticks from latching onto pets, he said.
Instead, he recommends using flea and tick medication, such as Frontline, to kill any ticks on a pet’s body before Lyme disease is transmitted.
For households with both cats and dogs, Russell warns owners to check the labels of the medications, for they could be helpful to one pet and dangerous to the other.
In particular, he said, the medication Activyl is toxic to cats, and so they need to be kept temporarily separated from any dogs treated with it.
Along with regular preventive treatment, Russell suggests giving a thorough tick search to any pets that have gone through wooded areas or tall grass.
Early signs of the disease in animals include limping and pain in the joints; it is important to diagnose it early to prevent possible kidney inflammation and failure, he said.
Lyme disease is only one of a number of conditions that can be found on a routine heart disease test , which Russell recommends owners get for their pets annually.