Despite what many people believe, tick bites are more than just a nuisance. In fact, a bite from the wrong tick could actually leave your canine companion very unwell. This is because ticks, as blood drinkers, are capable of carrying disease. Should they snack on an infected animal, the infectious organisms that cause the disease will transfer into the tick, and then passed again when it chooses its next meal. Without proper protection, the infection can quickly infiltrate a neighborhood full of animals.
It is also important to note that some canine tick infections are classified as zoonotic, meaning that they can affect humans too.
What infections can be caused by a tick biting my dog?
It is often not until owners discover the unpleasant and serious nature of the infections transmitted through tick bites that they realize the importance of preventive treatment.
There are a range of different tick-borne diseases that can potentially affect your four-legged best friend. Here are the ones that you need to be most concerned about.
The most well-known tick-transmitted disease across the United States, Lyme disease is zoonotic and there were over 26,000 cases of it reported in humans in 2016. Although it can be serious in both dogs and humans, untreated Lyme disease in humans can cause problems with the joints, spinal cord, heart and brain.
Lyme disease is transmitted by the western black-legged tick and the deer tick, although it can take up to 48 hours for the infection to pass from tick to animal/human.
Canine symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stiff joints
- Swollen joints
- Unwillingness to walk
One of the biggest challenges of Lyme disease is that it can take weeks or even months for any symptoms to become apparent. When they do, they are often vague and difficult to pinpoint as Lyme disease.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Another zoonotic infectious disease, RMSF can be carried by the wood tick, brown tick, American dog tick and Lone Star tick. It can also be found across the country, despite its name suggesting otherwise.
Symptoms of RMSF can be simpler to identify than that seen in Lyme disease. Indicators to watch out for include:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain or stiffness of the joints
- Skin lesions
- Neurological difficulties such as apparent confusion
Transmitted by the brown dog tick, this canine tick-borne disease can be found across the world. It can be extremely serious so early diagnosis is essential for your pet to make a full recovery.
Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis include:
- Loss of appetite
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose, often with bloody mucus
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Breathing difficulties
Attacking your dog’s blood cells and putting her at risk of anemia and other problems, Babesiosis is spread by the American dog tick and brown tick. Cases are more prevalent in New England states, but have been reported in other parts of the country.
The following symptoms may indicate that your canine pal is suffering from Babesiosis:
- Pale gums
- Colored urine
- Skin that seems yellow/orange
- Stools that are discolored
- Enlarged abdomen
Treating canine tick-borne infections
Antibiotics are successful in treating the majority of tick-borne infections in canines. However, as with all medical treatments, the sooner your pet starts the necessary treatment the better her prognosis for recovery will be.
Every dog is different and so your veterinarian will talk you through your pet’s treatment plan and give you more accurate information regarding your dog’s recovery.
Like many other types of infectious disease, the only way to stop it reaching epidemic proportions is to ensure that animals are adequately protected against it. Thankfully there are plenty of different preventive treatment options now available and your veterinarian in Miramar Beach or veterinary team in Miramar Beach will be happy to discuss these with you and make a personal recommendation. Contact us today to learn more.