Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs

“Ticks? Who cares? I just pick them off my dog when I find them, no big deal.” Unfortunately for pet owners who follow this line of thought, it is a big deal. Not only do ticks carry Lyme disease, but they also carry some other lesser known diseases that can harm you and your pet. In addition to Lyme disease, Ticks can carry Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and others. Even more concerning, there is no way for you to tell if a tick is carrying disease or not, and it only takes one tick bite to infect your dog. Also, some ticks are known to carry more than one of these diseases, which can lead to multiple infections, or co-infection. What is common among all vector-borne disease, however, is that their symptoms are often vague and difficult to recognize. Often many pet owners don’t know their dog is suffering from a debilitating tick disease until it’s too late.

So, how do I know if my pet may already be harboring one of these diseases?  And, how do I protect my pet? As a guideline – not a complete list – here are some common symptoms seen in dogs with:

  • Lyme disease – limping, joint pain, lethargy, decreased appetite
  • Ehrlichiosis – decreased appetite, runny nose or eyes, respiratory distress, bloody noses
  • Anaplasma – lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures (in severe cases)
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – decreased appetite, joint and muscle pain, vomiting, lethargy

First step is to do a blood test to check for these tick-borne diseases. World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals have an in-house test for these diseases that only takes a few drops of blood and produces results within 10 minutes.  Once your pet tests negative, it is time to focus on prevention! There are a number of tick preventatives on the market, and you and your Veterinarian can discuss which option is most appropriate for your pet. World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals carry both topical and oral flea & tick preventatives. Call any time to ask our staff for more information.

There is also an effective vaccination against Lyme disease for dogs, which should be used as an added layer of preventative protection. The vaccine is administered twice (3-4 weeks apart) the first year and then annually each year after that to maintain the best immunity.

Keep in mind that if your pet does test positive for one of these diseases, he or she can be treated successfully if caught in the early stages of disease. As the disease progresses, it can have more detrimental and irreversible effects to your dog, and can even be fatal.

By Tamara Borland VMD