For both dogs and people in Charlotte and beyond, tick-borne diseases pose a very real health concern. Symptoms of these diseases can be painful and leave your dog feeling lethargic and blue. In today's post we discuss a number of tick-borne illnesses that could affect your dog.
How Ticks Can Impact Your Dog's Health
The health of people and pets across the US is at serious risk from a host of tick-borne diseases. These illnesses impact thousands of dogs throughout North America every year and are capable of producing some very serious symptoms. In some cases, tick-borne diseases can even be life-threatening or fatal.
Not only that, multiple organisms can be transmitted to your dog through a single bite of an infected tick, allowing different organisms to work together to release toxins and trigger your pet’s immune system. These organisms can invade your dog's cells and hijack their immune system often leading to recurring or chronic infections.
Below are some of the most common tick-borne illnesses in dogs.
Tick-Borne Illness in Dogs
Lyme DiseaseLyme disease is a condition seen in dogs and people caused by the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. This bacteria can be transmitted to dogs by infected black-legged ticks or deer ticks. In dogs, the symptoms of Lyme disease can include lameness, fever, joint pain or swelling, enlargement of lymph nodes, and lethargy. Lyme disease in dogs can be successfully treated, however in people Lyme can be much more serious.
Canine BartonellosisCanine Bartonellosis is less common than some other tick-borne diseases seen in dogs however it's worth noting because the symptoms of this disease can be very serious. Symptoms of Bartonellosis include intermittent fever and lameness in the early stages, but if the condition is left untreated it can lead to liver or heart disease. People are also susceptible to this tick-borne disease.
Tiny intracellular bacteria called Rickettsial organisms are also transmitted by ticks. Rickettsial are responsible for range of conditions in both dogs and people. These conditions can be particularly challenging to diagnose. Multiple tests or rounds of treatment may be needed before a definitive cause for your dog's symptoms can be determined.
Below are some of the most common Rickettsial diseases seen in dogs.
Canine Anaplasmosis (Dog Tick Fever)The most common symptoms of Anaplasmosis in dogs are stiff joints, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, this tick-borne disease can also lead to seizures.
Canine EhrlichiosisSymptoms of Canine Ehrlichiosis generally start to appear between 1-3 weeks after your dog has been infected. Symptoms of this condition that pet parents should watch for include fever, reduced appetite, bruising and nose bleeds. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing chronic symptoms of Ehrlichiosis in dogs.
Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverRocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a tick-borne condition that can be seen in dogs across Central, South, and North America. Joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, decreased appetite and fever are some of the most common symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs. Some dogs suffering from this condition also experience neurological symptoms such as balance issues or weakness.
Protozoal diseases originate from a tick-borne protozoal intracellular parasite which can thrive in your dog’s red blood cells. Some of the most common tick-borne protozoal diseases seen in US dogs include Canine Babesiosis and Hepatozoonosis.
Canine BabesiosisCanine Babesiosis is primarily spread through the bite of an infected tick however, this condition can also be spread through the bite of an infected dog, contaminated IV blood or transferred to unborn puppies from a pregnant mother through transplacental transmission. This tick-borne illness causes the break down of your dog's red blood cells, resulting in symptoms such as jaundice, pale gums, lethargy, dark-colored urine, and in some cases vomiting and weakness.
Canine HepatozoonosisAs well as being a tick-borne disease, your dog could contract Canine Hepatozoonosis by consuming another infected animal such as a bird or rodent. Many infected dogs show no symptoms of this disease, whereas others suffer painful symptoms which can seriously impact their mobility such as muscle, bone, and/or joint pain. Other symptoms of Canine Hepatozoonosis include fever, pale gums and skin, and enlarged lymph nodes.
How Tick-Born Illnesses in Dogs Can Be Treated
Dogs with tick-borne diseases are typically treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics. Probiotics may also be recommended while your dog is on antibiotic treatment to help prevent gastrointestinal issues. Recurring tick-borne conditions can be particularly challenging to beat. Even after your pup appears to have recovered, regular blood work may be recommended to help detect recurrences early so that treatment can prevent the condition from becoming more serious.
Preventing Your Dog From Contracting Tick-Borne Diseases
Our vets firmly believe that prevention is far better than treatment. We want your dog to stay healthy and happy throughout their lifetime, that's why we recommend keeping your pet on preventive medications whenever ticks are around. Why these medications are not a 100% guarantee that your pet will remain healthy they are helpful.
Other preventive measures include keeping the grass in your yard short to deter ticks, and thoroughly checking your dog for ticks whenever you get home from a walk, particularly if you pup has been near long grass, shrubs or forested areas. Be sure to check between your dogs toes, in the creases between their legs and body, and around their ears.
Ticks need to be removed carefully in order to prevent leaving parts behind. Ask your vet to show you how to remove ticks safely, or pop into your vets office to have them remove ticks from your pet.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.