Friday, 08/19/2022

Tick borne diseases in dogs are infections passed from ticks to mammals. In most cases, the disease is passed when a tick feeds on an animal infected with bacteria. Most dog tick diseases occur in areas where it is very humid, and ticks thrive, for example, around lakes and forests and weeds. If your canine spends time outside, you may be at risk of contracting a tick-borne disease. 

Research on tick borne disease in dogs in the USA has shown that positive tests for Lyme disease were 11.6% in the Northeast, 4% in the Midwest, and 1.4% in the West. Another study on tick infested dogs showed that 18.4% were exposed to B. burgdorferi, the bacteria responsible for transmitting Lyme disease.   

Pets that spend more time outdoors may be more susceptible to contracting tick-borne diseases than pets that don’t spend much time roaming freely outdoors. It is because ticks thrive in such environments and commonly feed on animals there, allowing them to pass these diseases onto their mammalian host. 

Tick bites on dog infestations are prevalent in dogs as they can be very pesky, and with the proper treatment, prevention and vigilance, your pet can remain parasite-free. However, these conditions can spread rapidly if left untreated, resulting in serious health issues and even death. 

Therefore, it’s essential to know the signs of a tick bite and follow it up with a thorough check of your dog under the supervision of a professional veterinarian. In this article, we have covered everything you ever wanted to know about tick diseases in dogs and how you can keep him safe from them:

What are Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs?

Tick-borne disease is any disease that is transmitted from a tick to an organism. Tick-borne diseases are a subgroup of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that are transferred from one species to another. 

Numerous tick-borne diseases can affect dogs, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, etc. Owners should keep themselves well aware of the risks associated with getting ticks on their dogs and ensure that the ticks are removed safely.

Fleas and ticks are prevalent and commonly found in dogs. In fact, you are more likely to get dog fleas or ticks than you are to get them from your cats. Fleas can cause severe itching and inflammation in your dog’s skin and may transmit diseases to your dog. Ticks can transmit pathogens that cause infections that can be life-threatening in dogs. Dogs’ most common tick-borne diseases include Babesiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

What Are The Common Tick Diseases?

Following are the common tick diseases in dogs. We also have covered the tick borne disease symptoms in dogs here. Let’s take a look:

  1. Lyme Disease 

Lyme disease is a common tick-borne illness affecting dogs and humans. The ailments are caused by the parasite Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria that is spread by the deer tick and the western black-legged tick.

For dogs, symptoms typically include fever, fatigue, joint pain, lameness, poor appetite, and depression. In rare cases, dogs can develop seizures or extreme pain in muscles or bones. If left untreated, chronic neurological damage can occur. 

Lyme disease in humans has common symptoms including fever, headache, fatigue, sensitivity to light, numbness or tingling, sore or stiff neck, and a skin rash called erythema migrans. When the ailment is untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. In most severe cases in humans, symptoms such as an irregular heartbeat and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord is seen. 

  1. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a disease affecting dogs’ nervous and blood systems. Symptoms include lethargy and disorientation, followed by difficulty walking and staggering gait. Numbness can also develop in the hind limbs and paresis of the tongue. Rickettsia rickettsia bacteria is responsible for the disease that is transmitted by infected American dog tick and the lone star tick.

  1. Canine Ehrlichiosis 

Ehrlichiosis is another tick-borne illness that affects dogs primarily in the heart and central nervous system. Symptoms include lethargy, intermittent eye discharge, nasal discharge, and weakness of the rear limbs. Ehrlichia ewingii and Ehrlichia chaffeensis, the ailment-causing bacteria, are transmitted by the lone star tick in the southwestern as well as Gulf Coast regions of the United States. Higher cases of infections are reported.

  1. Canine Anaplasmosis 

Anaplasmosis is a rare disease that affects dogs primarily caused by the parasite. Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys. The sign of the disease is usually nonspecific; however, you may witness signs such as Loss of appetite, LethargyLameness, Neck pain or neurologic signs in some cases, Bruising on the gums, and bellySpontaneous nosebleeds, etc. Anaplasma phagocytophilum is transmitted by the infected deer tick and the western black-legged tick.

  1.  Babesiosis

There is also another common tick-borne disease Babesiosis. Babesiosis is caused by the bacteria Babesia gibsoni and Babesia vogeli, and the symptoms include Lack of activity/lethargy, weakness, Weight loss, etc.

  1. Canine Hepatozoonosis

Hepatozoonosis is primarily seen in the eastern and middle-southern regions of the United States. The parasite species Hepatozoon americanum causes the ailments. It is spreaded by the Gulf Coast tick. Also, brown dog tick spreads Hepatozoon canis.

Table: Most frequently diagnosed tick diseases

Disease VectorParasite 
Canine Anaplasmosis Blacklegged TickWestern Blacklegged TickBrown Dog TickAnaplasma phagocytophilum Anaplasma platys
Canine Ehrlichiosis  Lone Star TickBrown Dog TickBlacklegged TickEhrlichia canisEhrlichia ewingiiEhrlichia chaffeensis
Lyme DiseaseBlacklegged TickWestern Blacklegged TickBorrelia burgdorferi
Rocky Mountain spotted feverLone Star TickBlacklegged TickGulf Coast TickRocky Mountain Wood TickAmerican Dog TickBrown Dog TickRickettsia rickettsia
Canine HepatozoonosisGulf Coast TickBrown Dog TickHepatozoon americanum
BabesiosisBlacklegged TickBrown Dog TickBabesia gibsoni Babesia vogeli

Causes of Tick Infestations in Dogs

There are a number of possible causes of tick infestations in dogs. They are most likely to occur in dogs that live in wooded or grassy areas and that spend a lot of time outdoors.

  • The species of ticks that can cause tick infestations in dogs include American dog ticks (Dermacentor variabilis), lone star ticks (Amblyomma americanum), and black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis).These species are all known as vectors because they transmit diseases to other organisms.
  • Tick infestations in dogs may be acute or chronic. Acute tick infestations occur when a dog is bitten by a tick and then infected with the disease it carries. Chronic tick infestations occur when the dog is infected with a disease as a result of being bitten by a tick that already has the disease.
  • The most common diseases transmitted by ticks to dogs are Babesia, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, and Lyme disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. All can lead to serious health problems for your pet if untreated.
  • A tick infestation in your dog is a result of your pet coming into contact with ticks on a host, such as you, or an animal in the area, such as a neighbor’s dog. In order to get rid of ticks on your dog, you need to get rid of these eggs and adult ticks on you and your pet. There are several ways to do this, including vacuuming, laundering, and using an insecticide. 

To bring more transparency and clarity to tick-borne illness in dogs, we have graphically prepared the tick’s lifecycle with reference to Lyme Disease in an infographic below: 

Signs of Tick Infestations in Dogs

The most common signs of tick borne illness in dogs in dogs include:

  • Fever and anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing, painful skin
  • Mood changes (e.g., depression, lethargy)
  • Sneezing, runny nose
  • Redness of eyes
  • Lameness/joint pain
  • Spontaneous and shifting leg lameness
  • Reluctance to move
  • Stiffness when walking
  • Neurological abnormalities
  • Neck Pain

Your dog may also have red, itchy bumps on the skin, which are called tick bites. If your dog has fleas and ticks, he may also have a fever, an increase in thirst, increased urination, vomiting,lethargy, and depression.

If you live in an area where it’s common to find ticks on dogs, you should regularly check your dog for ticks and remove them as soon as you find them.You can remove the tick using fine-tipped tweezers.

Treatment for Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs

If a dog is infected with a tick-borne disease, the first step is to have the pet examined by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will use blood tests to determine if the pet has symptoms of the disease. If the pet does not have symptoms of the disease, it will be treated and tips will be given to provent the illness. The treatment for tick bite borne diseases in dogs includes antibiotics, corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • If a dog does have symptoms of one of these diseases, it will be treated with antibiotics to fight the infection and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as glucosamine and chondroitin are also used to help reduce pain and swelling caused by the condition. The best prevention against tick-borne diseases in dogs is using preventative medicine, vaccination and putting protective gear on your pet when going outdoors.
  • To treat Lyme disease in dogs naturally, you can use Glucosamine Sulfate natural supplement in your pet’s food as it helps to ease the joint pain. Teasel (Dipsacus spp) also cures arthritis in your pet caused by Lyme Disease. However, it is advisable to consult your veterinarian before starting any supplement or treatment
  • Use a fine-toothed brush to remove all visible ticks as you check your pet’s  body and haircoat. This will prevent the tick from engorging with your dog’s blood before it is able to transmit pathogens (e.g., Babesia spp.) that cause disease in dogs. 
  • Also ensure to vaccinated pets with tick preventive vaccines, you also can levenger tick preventative pet gears such as a dog collar. Avoid squeezing the tick as of the tick’s bodily fluids and never use any human tick repellent spray on pets as that can be toxic. 

Conclusion: How to Prevent Tick Borne Diseases in Dog

Tick-borne diseases can be dangerous and difficult to treat, both for the dog and its owner. However, there are steps that you can take to protect your dog from tick-borne diseases. The best way to prevent tick-borne diseases is to be mindful of common areas where ticks can be found. 

These include: closely cropped grass and tall weeds, areas around rocks and logs, which are often home to small animals such as mice and chipmunks, and dense brush. Also avoid where ticks are most common, including grassy or wooded areas near bodies of water; under bushes and rocks; along trails; and in tall grass or weeds near the middle of the lawn or in the mulch under shrubs or trees.

Keep your dog’s body and haircoat well groomed and cleaned regularly. This will help reduce the number of ticks that pick up a host and wait for a blood meal. Check your dog regularly for ticks during periods of highest tick activity (e.g., spring through fall). 

Disclaimer: The content on the site is for educational purposes only, and it does not provide medical advice. The shared information must not be treated as a substitute for or alternative for medical practitioner advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Regarding any concerns about your pet’s health, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity. Each pet has specific health, fitness & nutrition needs. Do not disregard, avoid or delay pet health-related advice from veterinarians based on reading the information provided on this site.

Tick Borne Related FAQs 

  1. Are tick-borne diseases in dogs contagious?

No, tick-borne diseases in dogs are not contagious. These diseases are caused by infection with the same ticks that carry them from one dog to another. The diseases themselves are not contagious, but a tick bite a infected pet and then bite a new host if it is transmitted from one pet to another. 

A dog can be infected with a tick-borne disease but never show signs of illness or disease. Signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases in dogs typically develop between one and six weeks after exposure to the bites or nymphs of the ticks that transmit them. Some signs and symptoms may appear quickly (within one to two days) and others may take longer to develop, but all can occur within weeks of exposure to the bacteria or viruses causing the disease.

  1. What tick-borne diseases in dogs that cause low platelets?

Canine Ehrlichiosis affects the white blood and cells in dod. Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingii, Ehrlichia chaffeensis are the pathogens responsible for the disease. Ehrlichia canis is transmitted by the brown dog tick; Ehrlichia ewingii and Ehrlichia chaffeensis are transmitted by the lone star tick.

  1. What are the long-term effects of tick-borne disease in dogs

Long term effects of tick borne disease can be fatal. It  can cause  kidney failure, which may be fatal, as well as serious cardiac and neurological effects.

  1. What are the 3 stages of lyme disease?

The three stages of 3 stages of Lyme disease are early localized Lyme, early disseminated Lyme, and late disseminated Lyme. Early localized stages typically occur within one to 30 days. Early disseminated Lyme occurs several weeks or months after a tick bite. Late disseminated Lyme months to years after a tick bite if Lyme disease is not treated effectively or left untreated in the first two stages.



Alex Schechter

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