Temperatures are warming and it’s getting more fun for people and pets to go outside to hike and play.

Which makes this a good time to let dog owners know something they may never have considered: Dogs can get Lyme disease, too.

You probably already know that Lyme disease is spread by ticks and is dangerous to humans. The veterinarians at BluePearl Veterinary Partners warn that it’s also dangerous to dogs.

If you like hiking in the woods, or even spending time in the back yard, you should always check your own body for ticks afterward. Now, make sure you are checking your dog as well. Ticks carry Lyme disease, as well as some other diseases harmful to both people and pets.

In dogs, the signs of Lyme disease can include fever, joint pain, lethargy, loss of appetite, neurologic disorders and difficulty walking. Dogs who have both a fever and a limp should definitely be evaluated by a veterinarian. Lyme disease may also cause kidney damage and can be fatal if left untreated.

If your dog shows some of these signs, it’s a good idea to contact your primary care veterinarian. And follow these tips to make sure your dog is safe:

  • Talk with your family veterinarian about vaccinating your pet against Lyme disease.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about the best way to prevent fleas and ticks from latching on to your pet. For example, your veterinarian may suggest an oral medication so that your pet is simply given a pill once a month. Or the vet may encourage spot-on medications, medicated shampoos, powders or tick collars.
  • Consider having your yard and home treated for ticks.
  • Inspect your dogs for ticks if they have been outside near wooded areas.
  • If you find a tick, take tweezers and remove the tick as close to the body of the pet as possible, trying to get the head of the tick out.
  • Watch your pet carefully over time and look out for any changes in behavior.

If your pet is not acting right, take him or her to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

BluePearl Veterinary Partners is located in Grand Rapids on the Medical Mile just East of Fuller. Click here to visit their website.