Checking dog for ticks

Lyme Disease: Protecting Pets in the Midwest

When things warm up and our pets begin to play in the sun, remember they are not alone. Depending on temperatures, ticks begin to come out as early as mid-March and are in search of a host to latch onto. These parasites transmit a variety of diseases, one of the most common of which is Lyme disease. Be aware of the causes, signs, and how to protect your pet with this information and preventative recommendations.


Tick on leaf


What causes Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is spread when an infected tick bites a host. The type of tick that affects our Midwest region in North Dakota and Minnesota is called the blacklegged tick or commonly referred to as the deer tick. These critters feed on mammals such as deer and mice that are infected with a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which causes Lyme disease.


Dog in woods


Often found in wooded areas, shrubs and tall grasses, these parasites can latch onto pets that are anywhere near these types of environments. Dig deeper into the life cycle of ticks and how they spread Lyme disease with this video:

Signs & Symptoms

Early detection of Lyme disease in your pet can be difficult as some pets do not show signs of infection for months. Additionally, the nature of this disease’s progression may also cause signs to disappear for a time and reappear later, so it is important to be aware of what to look for and seek veterinary attention if you suspect infection has occurred.

Signs of Lyme disease:

  • Tiredness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Reluctant to exercise
  • Joint pain
  • Fever

Once the infection has set in, your pet may experience the following long-term issues in the following body parts:

  • Joints
  • Kidneys
  • Heart
  • Nervous system


Typically, it takes about 36-48 hours for a tick to spread the disease, so checking pets immediately is essential to prevention. Keep an eye out for spots ticks frequent like inside the ears, armpits, and neck. If you do find a tick on your pet, carefully remove it making sure not to leave any parts that may be attached where the bite occurs.

Ticks are most active in the spring from March to mid-May, and in the fall from mid-August to November. We strongly recommend using preventative medications for 6-8 months (Mar-Oct) to help keep ticks from infecting your pet.

To get your pet protected from those terrible ticks, give us a call at Grand Valley Animal Hospital to set up an appointment today at 701.757.3500.

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