All you wanted to know about ticks and more
Dogs are susceptible to the diseases that ticks carry. Even with a strict regimen of preventative products, ticks can still turn your perfect pooch into one sick puppy. Here are the big ones to watch out for.
Lyme Disease is probably the most recognizable tick-borne illness. For you ancient Romans and scientists, it is caused by the bacterium “Borrelia burgdorferi”, which is transmitted to humans and pets by the bite of infected deer ticks. In 2002, there were over 23,000 cases of Lyme Disease reported in humans in the US. The bearer of the disease is a member of the Ixodes family and uses a three-host life cycle. The ticks parasitize small mammals (think rodents) in their immature stages and larger mammals in their adult stage (think you and your pet). These ticks are very small; in fact, they are no bigger than a pinhead during their immature stages. Ticks feed by inserting their mouths into the skin of a host and slowly take in blood. During feeding, “Borrelia burgdorferi” can be transmitted to the host.
Tick Paralysis is caused by a neurotoxin found in tick saliva. An infected pet will show signs in five to nine days after tick attachment. The typical symptoms are general loss of neuromuscular function, starting most often from the back end of the animal and then moving forward. Diagnosis of tick paralysis is usually based on clinical signs, presence of ticks, and ruling out other causes of paralysis. Luckily, the clinical typically resolve soon after tick removal.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is most commonly transmitted by the American dog tick and, though is sounds like it could be a John Denver song, it’s a pretty miserable experience for your furry buddy. Symptoms appear in three to 12 days after tick contact and include sudden onset of fever, headache, and aching muscles. A rash usually develops on the wrists and ankles on the second or third day of fever. The rash then spreads to involve the rest of the body, including the palms and soles.
Canine Ehrlichiosis is caused by the microorganism Ehrlichia canis. The tick Rhipicephalus sanguineous can transmit Ehrlichia to dogs when feeding on their blood. Once affected, dogs may have enlarged spleen, swollen legs and pale gums. In terms of behavior, which is easier to monitor, an affected dog may become lethargic and experience weight loss.
Hepatozoon Canis is a protozoal organism that is transmitted when a dog ingests an infected Rhipicephalus sanguineous tick. Red flag symptoms for this disease are fever, poor body condition, stiff gait, muscle pain and eye and nasal discharge.
Canine Babesiosis is caused by the protozoan parasite, Babesia canis and, like other diseases, is transmitted by Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Clinical signs of infection include severe anemia.
With almost any sickness in any animal, a dog that feels bad will probably act like it. Keep a keen eye on your pet’s behavior. If your dog loses appetite, starts acting lethargic or has any of the specific symptoms above, take him to someone who can do something about it.