When you choose to bring a dog into your family, you will have many different things you need to consider in order to keep her healthy and happy for as long as possible. In addition to ensuring that she gets the right diet and enough exercise, you also need to think about keeping her safe from disease.
Parasites are one of the biggest potential health hazards to dogs as they feed on the blood of their host to survive. This ingestion of blood also makes them capable of carrying disease, and ticks in particular are well known for transmitting infectious illnesses from host to host. Fortunately, there are a wide range of different preventive treatments available to protect your furbaby from becoming unwell. If your pet is affected by a tick-borne disease, a course of antibiotics is usually sufficient to treat in the infection. However, the earlier your dog is diagnosed, the better the outcome for her.
Why is it important to protect your dog from tick-borne diseases? Some tick- are more likely to affect dogs than others, but all can have some unpleasant, debilitating and even potentially dangerous consequences for your pet. So that you know what you are up against, here is our guide to some of the most common canine tick-borne diseases.
Easily the most prevalent tick-borne diseases in the United States, Lyme disease can affect humans too. The infection is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer tick or a western black-legged tick. The longer the tick is attached to your pet’s body, the more likely it is to pass the infectious organisms into her bloodstream.
Symptoms of canine Lyme disease include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stiff joints and seems still while walking
- Swollen joints
Unfortunately, signs of the infection can take months to appear. Most dogs will make a full recovery, but in some instances, the disease can put the life of your furbaby at risk.
Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne disease that presents in a very similar way to Lyme disease, although your dog may additionally experience episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, seizures could occur.
Like Lyme disease, anaplasmosis is transmitted through the bite of infected deer tick. Once treated, symptoms improve rapidly and almost all dogs go on to make a full recovery.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
Also referred to as RMSF, this infectious disease is spread by a number of different ticks including the Lone Star tick, the American dog tick, the wood tick and brown tick. Despite its name, it can be found throughout both North and South America. It is zoonotic meaning that it can also transfer between humans and animals.
Symptoms of RMSF appear much quicker than many other tick-borne diseases and include:
- Loss of appetite
- Joint/muscle pain
- Skin lesions
- Neurological changes such as confusion or dizziness
RMSF can be serious, and in some cases fatal. However, prompt diagnosis and treatment can drastically improve the predicted outcome for your pet.
Although most commonly seen in dogs in New England states, Babesiosis has been found across the rest of the country, and indeed the globe. Spread by the American dog tick and brown tick, it affects the blood cells and causes a range of symptoms including those similar to other tick-borne diseases, as well as:
- Colored urine
- Pale gums
- Yellowed/orange skin
- Discolored stools
- Enlarged abdomen
In addition to antibiotic medication, in some instances your dog may require a blood transfusion to counter the effects of anemia.
Another extremely common tick-borne disease found across the world, Ehrlichiosis is caused by a bite from an infected brown dog tick. Symptoms can take several weeks or more to develop, but when they do can include:
- Decreased appetite
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Bloody nose mucus
- Respiratory distress
Treatment is provided through a course of antibiotics, but dogs who have been infected may develop the disease again. It is a serious disease that can prove fatal for your pet if prompt treatment is not received. The prognosis for dogs who have reached the chronic stage of the condition is not good. Therefore, the sooner your canine pal is diagnosed, the better her outcome will be.
For further information on canine tick-borne diseases, or to find out how to best protect your pet from these debilitating and sometimes deadly illnesses, please contact our Veterinarians in Denton, TX and speak to our team at Denton Veterinary Center.