What You Need to Know About Lyme Disease

We’re sure you’ve heard of Lyme Disease. Most people have. But we’re always here to help and educate pet parents, so we wanted to take a closer look at this serious illness as we enter Lyme Disease season. Did you know that in 2018 we saw 271 Lyme Disease positive dogs in our practice alone?
What is Lyme Disease?

First and foremost, we live in an area that is plagued with Lyme Disease. This disease is no laughing matter. It results from bacteria spread by ticks and can affect dogs, cats, humans, deer, raccoons, mice, squirrels, and other mammals. And these ticks are sneaky! They’re sometimes so small that they can disguise themselves as freckles and go undetected until after they’ve had a chance to fill with blood.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that around 350,000 people will contract Lyme Disease each year. From coast to coast, Lyme Disease is found in every state, including the entire Midwest. The majority of cases occur in spring, but this disease infects dogs, cats, people, and other animals year around.

Lyme Disease Is on the Rise

For the past twenty-five years, the CDC has seen a spike in incidents of Lyme Disease. In fact, reports of this disease have doubled! Why? Well, they suspect that as more and more people adopt outdoor lifestyles and enjoy more hiking, camping, and nature-walks, the more people and their pets are exposed to infected ticks.
Unfortunately, dogs end up as the most frequent victims of Lyme Disease. This is because ticks do an amazing job of hiding deep in a dog’s coat, dogs are closer to the ground, and dogs don’t have thumbs, which makes tick removal more difficult for them.

Symptoms and Health Concerns for Dogs with Lyme Disease

Only 5-10% of dogs that contract Lyme Disease will show obvious symptoms, and symptoms typically don’t occur until two to five months after infection. Dogs infected with Lyme Disease will go through three stages of symptoms and complications. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear until the third stage!

Stage One

  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite

Stage Two

  • Lameness
  • Arthritis
  • Inflamed and painful joints

Stage Three

  • Heart complications
  • Kidney damage
  • Neurological issues
  • Severe arthritis

Symptoms and Health Concerns for Cats with Lyme Disease
It’s also important to remember that cats can also contract Lyme Disease. Many cat owners believe that cats are immune to Lyme Disease because many infected cats don’t show symptoms. 
  • Stiffness
  • Pain and sensitivity to touch
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lameness in limbs
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Kidney issues, including possible kidney failure
  • Heart complications
  • Nervous system issues
If your dog or cat is exhibiting any symptoms of Lyme disease, we can run blood tests that look for the bacteria that causes the disease, and the antibodies that fight it. These tests help us diagnose your pet so we can begin treatment.

How Can You Protect Your Pet from Lyme Disease?

A tick infected with Lyme Disease will pass the bacteria to your dog or cat after feeding for about 24 hours. If you go on a hike or your pet plays in a wooded area, make sure you check them for ticks afterwards.
The best way to protect your pup or cat from getting sick is to use a prescription flea and tick preventive medicine. These will kill an infected tick before it has a chance to transmit the bacteria to your pet. Provide your pet with protection year-round and stay consistent - don’t skip any months. At Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic, we recommend the Lyme vaccine on all of our canine patients, even the house dogs, as we are in an endemic area.
Don’t skip annual appointments because many pets won’t show signs of Lyme Disease until months after infection. Make an appointment with us to learn about the many affordable and effective prevention methods we offer, or to explore treatment options if your furry friend tests positive.
Image credit: Chalabala | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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Not-So-Fascinating Facts About Fleas and Ticks

Did you know that fleas can pull 160,000 times their own weight? That’s proportionally more weight than you pulling a skyscraper! Did you also know that fleas can jump 30,000 times repeatedly without stopping! Talk about Leg Day! While these facts can be fascinating, fleas feasting on your pet are not. Both fleas and ticks can make life for your dog or cat pretty miserable.

What Is It Like for a Pet with Fleas?
A day in the life for a pet with fleas can be both physically and mentally uncomfortable and draining. As your dog falls into a deep slumber and finally reaches REM sleep when he begins to dream, he will be startled awake by flea bites followed by an irresistible need to scratch. He’ll wake up, scratch his ears, around his collar, maybe chew on his lower back above his tail, then snuggle down again. Of course, this cycle happens over and over again throughout his sleep.
And fleas don’t just keep your dog or cat from receiving rest. They will continue to bite throughout the day, each time your pet will stop, scratch or chew, and carry on. One flea can bite your pet 400 times per day and lay up to 50 eggs per day. Can you imagine how many daily bites that can lead to? It’s no wonder so many dogs and cats end up with bald patches and areas of their skin that they chew raw. 
This problem is even worse for cats and dog with flea allergies.
Fleas don’t just bother your pet, they prevent your pet from enjoying his day-to-day activities. They bother pet owners, too. Fleas can be costly and difficult to get rid of. Only 5% of fleas live on your pet, the rest hide throughout your home in the carpet and bedding. And here’s another fact, it takes two to three weeks for flea eggs to hatch, making the infestation reappear after one finally thinks they’ve solved the problem.

Ticks Can Cause Serious Damage to a Pet’s Health, Too

Ticks also cause discomfort for pets and lead to severe illnesses such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme’s Disease. These arachnids can practically be microscopic when they first a hitch a ride on your pup, but soon enough, they will fill with blood and drop off. 
Fleas and ticks can lead to anemia, internal parasites like tapeworms, diseases, and infection.

Here are the real facts:

  • Ticks often hop on a dog or cat after clinging to stalks and grass.
  • Ticks love areas where deer and other wild animals live.
  • Ticks go through four life stages and live up to three years.
  • Fleas can jump 150 times their height.
  • There are 2,000 species of fleas. The cat flea is the most common.
  • Fleas can survive 1-2 weeks without eating.
  • Ticks can cause a disease called Alpha-gal which causes human to form an allergy to red meat.

How Can You Prevent Your Pet from Getting Fleas and Ticks?

We know there are endless ‘natural’ solutions out there for fleas and ticks, but none will completely safeguard your pet. Just one tick can infect your dog or cat with a painful and life-threatening disease. The same is true of fleas. If your dog or cat swallows a flea with tapeworms, they will likely contract tapeworms (an owner's least favorite problem to deal with).
If you’re considering essential oils, sprays, or homeopathic remedies for fleas and ticks, please consult with us first. We offer a wide range of safe and effective flea and tick preventions that will keep your pet safe and your home bug-free.
With adequate flea and tick prevention, you can enjoy the great outdoors worry-free with your pet this spring. (And these intriguing facts about fleas will be more fascinating than frightening!)

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Heartworms: Not so Heart-Warming this Spring

Spring is here! Dog parents all over the country are thrilled to not have to bundle up in layers just to walk their dogs. Cats are happy to watch the birds flutter by the windows, and we all love the beautiful flowers that light up our yards this time of year. As the birds return and the weather warms up, so do the pests, including the mosquitos that could potentially be carrying heartworms.

Before you let your dog frolic in the backyard for hours on end, make sure you keep her protected from hazards that come along with pests: one of the most threatening being heartworms. In order to protect your pup, it’s essential that you understand what causes heartworm disease, how it affects dogs, and how to prevent it.

And trust us, you do not want your dog to get infected.

What Causes Heartworms?

If you’ve ever smacked a mosquito that took a bite out of your arm, you should know how easy it can be to contract heartworm disease. While humans cannot get infected with heartworms, it only takes one mosquito bite for a cat or dog to get infected.

There are 30 different species of mosquitos that can transmit heartworms. Mosquitos become infected by biting an infected mammal. The heartworm larvae then develop in the mosquito’s stomach for about 10 to 30 days. Then, if an infected mosquito bites a dog, they will enter the dog’s bloodstream and migrate to a dog’s heart where they will mature, mate, a reproduce for about six months. Disgusting, right? And to make it worse, each heartworm can live five to seven years!

How Does Heartworm Disease Affect Dogs?

Yes, heartworms are gross. In fact, thinking about them makes our skin crawl, too. They look like long threads. As they mature, they get longer and longer and eventually clog a dog’s heart and surrounding vessels. As you can imagine, these threads get in the way the valves that pump blood through the heart to the body.

Developed heartworms reduce blood flow and block blood vessels. Eventually, heartworms will block blood flow to the lungs and other organs so dogs wind up struggling to breathe. As the heartworms reproduce, they create more larvae that move around with the dog’s blood and block smaller blood vessels. Both of these create significant a risk to a dog’s health. 

Heartworms are life-threatening. The most common health issue for dogs infected with heartworms is heart failure.

While we check your dog’s lungs and heart at regular checkups, you should also know the common symptoms many pet parents recognize. 

Symptoms of Heartworms Include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of Breath
  •  Reluctance to Play and Run

If you suspect your dog is having trouble breathing, make sure you bring your pup by for a checkup. We can run blood tests if we hear any abnormalities that we may suspect as heartworm disease.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Prevent Heartworm Disease

While a mosquito seems harmless enough, heartworms are not. Not only is heartworm disease deadly, but heartworm treatment is costly, painful for dogs, and can be dangerous. Don’t risk your dog’s precious heart, life, or safety this spring.

The reality is you can’t prevent heartworm disease on your own. Luckily, we’re here to help! We offer a wide range of preventative medicines that will keep your pup safe all spring, summer, fall, and winter-long while you enjoy the sunshine and a few good games of fetch! Make an appointment to learn more about what heartworm medicine will work best for your best friend!


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Don't Let Fleas and Ticks Bug Your Pet This Spring

Don’t Let Fleas and Ticks Bug Your Pet This Spring

It’s time to talk fleas and ticks. Springtime isn’t just the time of year when flowers blooms, it’s flea and tick season. While our beautiful area warms up, fleas and ticks become more and more of a pest for our beloved pets. Flea eggs hatch and pets spend more time outdoors, so we see increased rates of dogs and cats suffering from these creepy crawlies.

Fleas and ticks thrive in temperatures above 40-degrees which means they’re about to spring into action. Now is the time to evaluate how you are protecting your pup or cat from fleas and ticks. 

Why Protect Your Pet with Flea and Tick Prevention This Spring?

Fleas and ticks aren’t just gross, they’re dangerous. Fleas and ticks can cause a wide range of serious health issues for our pets. Both of these parasites that can cause direct harm to your pet and expose them to greater risk for secondary, and more serious problems, like Lyme Disease and tapeworms.

Let’s Get Frank About Fleas

Did you know one flea can lay 40-50 eggs per day? Many wild animals like rats, mice, and rabbits can carry fleas and spread them to your yard or where you walk your dog.

Fleas eggs take two weeks to hatch which makes them difficult to get rid of once your pet and home becomes infested. We frequently see pet owners that believe they have their infestation under control, just to be surprised two weeks later when new fleas hatch and cycle starts all over, again.

Fleas cause your dog or cat to itch and scratch, sometimes until they scratch off patches of fur and cause cuts and skin irritation. But fleas aren’t just a nuisance because they cause our furry friends to itch, they can also cause other illnesses.

Health Issues Caused by Fleas

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Many dogs and cats are actually allergic to flea saliva. This can cause your pet to develop severe bumps and bald patches.
  • Hot Spots:  Painful and irritating to pets, hot spots are the result of your dog or cat chewing and licking the same area over and over again, making it vulnerable to bacteria.
  • Tapeworms: As your dog or cat chews the area where a flea bites them, there’s a likely chance they will swallow the culprit. Fleas infected with tapeworm can spread parasites to your pet’s intestines.
  • Anemia: Because fleas and ticks live off your pet’s blood, they can cause them low red blood cell counts which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
  • Bartonella:  Also known as “Cat Scratch Fever,” this infection can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.


Our area is particularly prone to ticks that can make our pups and cats ill. Ticks are especially active this time of year. As you return to hiking trails or even the park, your dog has a greater chance of being exposed to these icky little critters as he’s running through the wildflowers and fields.

You’re probably familiar with how ticks attach to our pets and fill with blood before falling off. But are you aware of the serious risks they pose our dogs and cats?

Common Health Issues Caused by Ticks

  • Lyme Disease: Lyme Disease causes joint issues, arthritis, and possible lameness in infected pets.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: This causes fever, lameness, and damage to your dog’s blood vessels.
  • Other Diseases and Illnesses: AnemiaRickettsiosis, Anaplasmosis, Bourbon Virus, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia

Ticks don’t just threaten your pet’s health, but they can threaten yours, too. If your pet brings a tick into your home and it drops off after feeding, it can attach to you and cause many of the same diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Often the health issues related to fleas and ticks aren’t recognized until they’ve progressed to becoming harmful, even life-threatening to pets. And as with most pet-related illnesses, they’re easier to prevent than treat and eliminate.

So, How Can Your Prevent Fleas and Ticks from Bugging Your Pets?

We offer a wide range of flea and tick preventative medicines. We tailor all prescriptions to your pet’s needs, so you know your furry best friend is getting the best care. We can also answer any questions that you may have related to your pet’s health!

If you think your dog or cat is experiencing a flea or tick problem or you want to prevent a problem before it happens, we can help!

It’s time to scratch that itch and bring your pet by for a checkup!

Photo Credit: krblokhin

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