Tick borne diseases pose diverse and dangerous threats to the health of dogs and the people who care about them throughout the Waxhaw area. These conditions can have painful or life threatening symptoms for your canine companion. Here, our vets walk you through the most common tick borne illnesses in dogs.
Tick Borne Illness in Dogs
Thousands of dogs across America are impacted by tick borne diseases every year. These conditions can be serious and painful for your beloved pet and some can ever be fatal when contracted in dogs.
How Tick Borne Diseases Attack Your Dog’s Immune System
Ticks are capable of transmitting a single or multiple organisms to your dog through their bite (also called coinfection). This allows for different organisms to work together to release toxins into your dog's body and trigger their immune system's response. These organisms are able to invade your dog's cells and hijack their immune system. Some organisms that ticks can transmit are even able to help one another survive within your dog's body, leading to recurring infections.
Infections transmitted by ticks generally result in your dog's organs and tissues becoming infected and inflamed, causing a myriad of symptoms. These symptoms may not even appear until weeks after your pup has initially been bitten though.
Common Tick Borne Diseases Seen in Dogs
There are a number of tick borne illnesses seen in dogs across North America. In some cases these diseases are spread by ticks that dogs encounter near home, in other cases, these diseases have been contracted by the pet while away from home (often while on out of state camping trips with pet parents). Below are some of the most common tick borne diseases diagnosed in Waxhaw area dogs.
- Transmitted by black-legged ticks or deer ticks, Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease can be found in dogs and people across North America. Lyme disease's symptoms include lameness, fever, joint pain, lethargy, welling of the joints, and enlarged lymph nodes. Lyme disease is treatable in dogs.
- While less common than some other tick-borne diseases found in dogs, Canine Bartonellosis can be a very serious condition. Early signs of this disease include lameness and fever. However, if left untreated, this condition can lead to heart disease or liver issues, which are serious health issues for your dog.
Rickettsial DiseasesInfected ticks can spread the bacterial obligate intracellular parasite called rickettsial. This bacteria can cause a wide number of diseases in dogs including Canine Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Bacterial disseases such as these can be particularly difficult to diagnose. Multiple tests and treatments may be required before any final diagnosis can be determined for your dog's symptoms.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Rock Mountain Spotted Fever, or RMSF, is carried by the brown deer tick, American dog tick, and the Rocky Mountain wood tick. This condition can be found in dogs from across the American continents and is able to affect humans as well! Joint pain, poor appetite, ad a fever are the most common symptoms of this dangerous illness in dogs, In some cases, dogs with RMSF may also develop weakness, balance issues, or other neurological symptoms too.
- The American dog tick, brown dog tick and lone star tick are all capable of spreading Canine Ehrlichiosis. It will often take between one and three weeks from your dog's initial infection for symptoms of this illness to appear. When they do, they will include fever, nose bleeds, poor appetite, and bruising. Survival of this serious condition is dependent on early diagnosis and treatment. If dogs develop chronic symptoms of this disease, treatment can become much more challenging.
- Much like many other tick borne disease, Canine Anaplasmosis has symptoms that range from loss of appetite, to stiff joints, lethargy, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Sever cases of this disease can lead to seizures in your dog as well.
Protozoal intracellular parasites can also be transmitted by ticks to your pup. These organisms live in your dog's red blood cells and cause the diseases seen below.
- Primarily spread through the bites of American dog ticks or brown dog ticks, Canine Babesiosis causes the breakdown of red blood cells and has symptoms like pale gums, jaundice, general weakness, vomiting, and dark urine. This condition can also be spread from dog to dog through bites, IV contamination, or from mothers to their unborn puppies.
- Canine Hepatozoonosis is spread through tick bites as well as through your pup eating another infected animal like a bird or rodent. Often, dogs infected by this disease will show few to no symptoms, however, more severe strains of the disease can lead to serious symptoms. These can include muscle, joint and bone pain as well as pale gums, fever, pale skin, and enlarged lymph nodes.
Treatment for Tick Borne Disease in Dogs
Most often, if a dog is diagnosed with a tick-borne disease they are treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics. While your dog is undergoing this treatment, our vets also recommend that you give your dog probiotics to help prevent any gastrointestinal issues which might arise.
Recurring tick borne illnesses can be particularly challenging to treat. Even if your dog appears to have recovered, we may need to conduct blood work to detect and prevent recurrences of the disease.
Protecting Your Dog Against Tick Borne Diseases
Year round tick prevention medications are the number one defense against tick borne diseases in dogs. Speak to your vet to find out which parasite prevention medication is best for your pet based on where you live, your pet's age, and your dog's lifestyle. While these medications go a long way to protecting your dog, no tick prevention method is 100% effective, so diligence is always a must.
If your dog has been in areas where ticks are known to live such as farmland, forests, or areas with tall grass, be sure to inspect your dog's skin for ticks as soon as you get home. Most ticks are dark brown or black in color and fairly large once they have begun to feed. An online search should help you to learn what ticks in your area look like and where they are typically found.
Ticks need to be removed carefully to protect your pup's health. Contact your vet for instructions on how to properly remove ticks from your dog's skin.