Most Common Tick-Borne Illnesses in DogsSometimes finding ticks is difficult and we can miss one until it grows and we are able to better see or feel it. That’s why it’s also important to know what diseases are most commonly spread by ticks and what symptoms to watch for so we know whether to take our furbaby to the vet. Here’s an important guide to the most common tick-borne illnesses.
AnaplasmosisThis one is also often called Dog Fever - thankfully because “anaplasmosis” is not comfortable to remember or say. It’s similar to Lyme Disease, but add vomiting and diarrhea to the list of symptoms. If it’s really severe, seizures can also happen. Deer ticks are the dog fever culprit, and they live across the East Coast. They mostly haunt trails and wooded areas but can make their way into backyards and landscape brush, so check for them after every outing. Anaplasmosis is also often called Dog Fever.
BabesiosisThis one is a global problem and is carried by American Dog Ticks and Brown Ticks. Those two types of ticks and this tick-borne illness are especially common in the U.S. and New England states, in particular. The most common sign of infection is anemia, but because that is something that requires testing, we need other symptoms to tell us whether our Fido may need to visit the vet. We can keep an eye out for dark urine, fever, general weakness, and swollen lymph nodes. Babesiosis is particularly prevalent in New England states
BartonellosisOne of many tick-borne illnesses carried by infected brown ticks as well as other insect parasites. For example, fleas and lice can transmit Bartonellosis. Look for fever, general restlessness, nausea, painful or sensitive lymph nodes, and shivering. Eventually, if left without treatment, Bartonellosis can cause heart disease and liver disease. If any of these are noted, we need to pack our pooch, the tick(s) we found, and head to the vet for treatment. Look for fever, general restlessness, nausea, painful or sensitive lymph nodes, and shivering.
EhrlichiosisLike many tick-borne illnesses, Ehrlichiosis is a global problem. Infected brown dog ticks are the most common carriers. It’s important to note that symptoms don’t always show up right away with this disease. Symptoms of infection can be delayed by as much as a week, but shouldn’t take longer than a week to present themselves. Watch for a notable decrease in appetite or sudden weight loss. Look for a runny nose and watery eyes, or frequent bloody noses. Depression, fever, or enlarged lymph nodes are also common. In more severe cases, respiratory distress can build up. It’s important to note that symptoms don’t always show up right away with Ehrlichiosis.
HepatozoonosisThis disease is carried by infected brown dog ticks and Gulf Coast ticks. Hepatozoonosis is most common to tropical and temperate climates. Interestingly, dogs become infected from tick bites and from ingesting the tick. The pathogen can live through exposure to the digestive process. Between the toes is a favorite hiding place for ticks. If our pup finds a tick before we do, it’s likely they’ll bite at it. Watch for a runny nose and watery eyes. Sometimes this can be accompanied by a fever. Check for muscle pain or soreness. Bloody diarrhea can also accompany early symptoms. Hepatozoonosis is most common to tropical and temperate climates.
Lyme DiseaseProbably the most famous of all tick-borne illnesses is Lyme Disease. The deer tick is the most common agent of transmission, and it’s a global problem for humans and animals. In the U.S., New England is considered a hot zone, but it’s found coast-to-coast. This particular disease is on the CDC watch list because of it’s growing encroachment into more regions and because the volume of diagnosis’ are growing. The most famous symptom is lethargy, but we also need to look for joint pain, decreased appetite, and fever. Luckily, humans often end up with a bullseye-shaped rash at the bite site, but dogs don’t end up with this tell-tale sign, so we need to watch for symptoms to know whether to get our pups tested. The most famous symptom of Lyme Disease is lethargy.
Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverAlso called RMSF for short, this disease sounds like it could have originated in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, but the fact is, it’s found throughout North and South America. And, unfortunately, there are four ticks that carry this one: the American dog tick, the wood tick, the brown tick, and the Lone Star tick. At least symptoms tend to show up pretty quickly, a few days, compared to the weeks it can take many other tick-borne illnesses to show up. Anemia and anorexia are common. However, we can watch for sudden lack of appetite, depression, fever, joint and muscle pain, and vomiting. In some cases, neurological abnormalities and skin lesions can develop. Symptoms for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever tend to show up pretty quickly, a few days compared to the weeks it can take many other tick-borne illnesses to materialize
Tick ParalysisJust as the name suggests, this is a toxin that affects the nervous systems, causing weakness and limp limbs. Symptoms don’t show for about a week after infection. It usually begins with weakness in our pup’s rear legs and then moves forward. Eventually, tick paralysis can cause difficulty breathing and swallowing. If it goes untreated, death is the result. An antitoxin is available so getting medical assistance early is key. This condition is found all over the world. In the U.S., it’s most commonly found along the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain states, and areas of the south. All North American ticks can carry this disease, and it has been reported in all states, so this is one to watch for and get treated early on. Not every tick carries a disease, but given the growing prevalence of tick-borne illnesses in dogs around the country, it’s important to learn how to find and remove ticks, how to avoid ticks, and what symptoms to watch for.
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