Tick Diseases in Dogs

Dogs are susceptible to diseases carried by ticks. Such ailments are hard to diagnose for the average pet owner, making it a priority to get the canine to a veterinarian once it begins to display symptoms of these tick-borne diseases. It is often difficult at best to find where a tick may have bitten a dog and passed on a disease and in many cases the disease will not manifest its symptoms for some time after the initial bite.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease, besides being a human affliction, is also a dog disease. Deer ticks infected with a bacterium known as borrelia burgdorferi are responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease, and the symptoms can take months to show up. Arthritis that results in a period of lameness, swollen joints, fatigue, fevers and swelling of the lymph nodes are all common signs of this illness in a dog. Lyme disease is a nationwide problem for dogs across the United States, with the northeastern states, California, mid-Atlantic states and the upper central states having the most cases. In the worst cases of Lyme disease, kidney failure is a potential outcome.

Canine Ehrlichosis

A condition known as canine ehrlichosis is another disease in dogs that is the result of a bacterial infection brought about by a tick bite. The brown dog tick is the culprit with this disease and the symptoms may take months to develop. Weight loss for no good reason is a key early signal to a pet owner. Other symptoms include a runny nose, fever, depressed attitude and bleeding from the eyes. The gums may be easily bruised with canine ehrlichosis and the disease is nefarious in that it will apparently go away only to reappear at a later date, sometimes years later. The southwestern states and the Gulf states are where this disease is most frequently diagnosed.

Canine anaplasmosis

The deer tick can also spread canine anaplasmosis, as can the brown dog tick. Each tick will transmit a different form of the illness and arthritic joints, a very high fever, lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and a painful neck are the most commonly seen symptoms of this condition. Like Lyme disease it is more common in New England, the northernmost central states, those in the mid-Atlantic region, and in California

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Three species of ticks can give a dog Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The American dog tick, the lone star tick and the wood tick all can cause a bacterium called Rickettsia rickettsii to penetrate the dog's defenses and precipitate the disease. The symptoms include a fever, lesions that break out on the skin, obvious stiffness when the dog tries to walk, and neurological problems. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be fatal and it occurs all over the U.S., with California, the South, and the states that contain the Rockies reporting the most cases.

Canine Babesiosis

Canine babesiosis is different from the other tick-borne disease because a protozoa is what is introduced into the dog's blood by the tick, not a bacterium. A type of tick called the Ixodid tick carries this particular disease. The organisms will destroy the red blood cells in a dog and cause anemia. Other signs are a fever and lack of energy. This disease can bring on rapid death from unusually low blood pressure and shock, with infections able to gain easy access to the animal as well. The southern states along with Oklahoma, Arizona and Arkansas, are where this disease most often strikes dogs.


About the Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.