Small and Potentially Deadly – What can a Tick do?
It was quite upsetting to see a tick on my dog two years ago. I sprayed Arctick for Pets on it which immobilized the tick, enabling me to remove it with tweezers. All seemed well until I remembered what diseases can be carried by ticks, so I began to look for possible symptoms to see if a visit to the vet was warranted. The harder I looked the more I started to imagine symptoms that were probably not even there. Diseases that are transmitted by ticks are usually difficult to diagnose early on and are usually discovered much later. I was lucky that my dog did not get any diseases but many dogs are not so lucky. Ticks can and do transmit some very serious diseases that should be watched for and treated properly.
The most common and recognizable tick borne disease is called Lyme disease. Transmission sometimes occurs when a deer tick that is infected with a particular bacteria called borrelia burgdorferi, bites the dog. Symptoms which might not show up for months include joint pain, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, tiredness, and fever. If Lyme disease is left untreated for a long period of time it may end up causing kidney failure which is potentially fatal.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be transmitted by a few different ticks. Symptoms can include skin lesions, certain neurological problems, and the dog often seems to have difficulty walking around, among other things. This disease is extremely dangerous and can also be fatal. Another thing about Rocky Mountain spotted fever is that it seems to occur all over the country leaving everyone feeling vulnerable.
Canine ehrlichiosis is also a disease that is transmitted by a tick which causes a bacterial infection in dogs. The tick that is to blame for this disease is called “the brown dog tick” and once a bite occurs it can take a long time for this disease to show up. Symptoms of Canine ehrlichiosis include fever, the appearance of depression, and weight loss. Bleeding from the eyes and bruised gums are also seen with this infection. Sometimes this disease seems to go into some sort of remission for a while only to return at another time.
A disease that is also transmitted by ticks is called Canine babesiosis. The particular type of tick that transmits this disease is called Ixodid. Another thing about this disease is that it is quite different from all the other tick diseases because is caused by protozoa and not by bacteria. Protozoa are single cell organisms that have the ability to move around on their own and get their food solely from other organisms. This organism attacks red blood cells which ends manifesting as anemia. Canine babesiosis is potentially fatal because it can cause a decrease in blood pressure causing to dog to go into shock.
Anaplasmosis is a disease that is also transmitted by ticks. The dog stops eating, can have diarrhea and vomiting. Neck pain, muscle aches, seizures, weakness, and inflamed joints, can also occur.
The best way to deal with ticks is to prevent them altogether. Topical medications such as K9 Advantix, Frontline Plus, Preventic Amitraz collar, Scalibor Protector Band for Dogs, and BioSpot collars and sprays are all great ways to help protect your dog against ticks. If you see a tick attached on your dog you should remove it with a pair of fine nosed tweezers by grabbing it as close as possible to its mouth and gently pulling it until it comes out. After removing the tick, remember that many diseases described here will manifest quite some time later, some up to several months later. If you notice any of the symptoms described here it is extremely important to take the dog to the veterinarian.
Treatment with the proper antibiotic along with supportive care and other treatments that the veterinarian can suggest may very well save your dog’s life. The earlier these diseases are caught and treated the less pain and discomfort your dog will suffer and the less costly the treatment will be. Untreated some of these tick borne diseases can be fatal.
If you have any medication related questions please don’t hesitate to call your 1800Petmeds pharmacist for assistance.