Why Are Tick-Borne Diseases Dangerous?

Ticks can transmit harmful diseases to pets and people and are often active all throughout the year. This means your pet can become infected at any time if they're not protected. Furthermore, these diseases can be fatal if their clinical signs go unnoticed and untreated. At Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic, we educate animal owners about the risks tick-borne diseases pose and how to protect against them.

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Cute black mutt dog outdoor portrait

Diseases Your Pet May Encounter

Eastern and Western black-legged ticks can transmit a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme disease. In addition to infecting dogs, it can also infect humans. Dogs that spend time outdoors in wooded areas with tall grass, shrubs, and trees with low-hanging branches are most at risk. Backyards and gardens are also potential hiding places for ticks.

Often, symptoms are not apparent in dogs for several months. These may include:

  • Stiff, swollen joints
  • Reluctance to stand, walk, and move in general
  • Fever and lethargy
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be spread to animals as well as humans. Despite its name, this disease can be found anywhere in the US. Infection occurs when a tick transmits bacteria called Rickettsia rickettsii. Symptoms include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain

Ehrlichiosis comes in several types, but Ehrlichia canis is the most common in the USThe main vector for this disease is the brown dog tick, and infection can cause:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss

Untreated, ehrlichiosis can be fatal. Seeking treatment for your pet during the acute phase is essential to their recovery.

When a tick feeds on a host infected with anaplasmosis, they can spread that infection to another animal. Anaplasmosis symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Possible seizures
Relaxed domestic cat at home, indoor

The Keys to Disease Prevention

There are several options available for preventing tick-borne diseases and keeping your pet healthy:

  • Having your pet vaccinated (for Lyme disease)
  • Keeping them on doctor-recommended preventatives all year round
  • Having your pet screened for ticks and tick-borne diseases at every yearly checkup
  • Checking yourself and your pet for ticks before entering the house
  • Managing your pet’s environment--clear away leaf litter, overgrown brush, and tall grass around your home
  • Consider limiting your pet from roaming to keep them away from potentially tick-infested areas

Call us today at (262) 723-2644 to learn more about your options and see what works best for your pet.

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Elkhorn Veterinary Clinic