As a dog parent, understanding the symptoms of common tickborne diseases and their danger is an important component of maintaining your dog’s health. Diseases spread by ticks pose a real risk to dogs throughout the United States. With proper education and prevention, you can do your part to help protect your furry friend from tickborne diseases.
Below, you'll learn more about the most common tickborne diseases that affect dogs in the U.S., symptoms to watch for, and how to ensure proper tick and flea prevention for your dog.
What are tickborne diseases?
Ticks are small parasites that feed on the blood of their animal host. Many ticks carry bacteria, viruses, or parasites, which can be dangerous to the health of your dog. When an infected tick bites your dog, the disease transmission can lead to a tickborne disease. Diseases caused by ticks are highly dangerous for your dog, but they can also pose a danger to humans as well.
Most common tickborne diseases
Your dog's risk for exposure to specific tickborne diseases may depend on your geographic location. Although ticks are found throughout the U.S., the geographic distribution of ticks can change from year to year or even sometimes from season to season. Each of the following common tickborne diseases can pose serious health risks to your dog.
Lyme disease (Northern U.S. and Mid-Atlantic states)
Lyme disease is one of the most common tickborne diseases that can affect dogs and humans. This condition is caused by a bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi, which is often transmitted to your dog by black-legged ticks or deer ticks. Dogs with Lyme disease may experience a variety of symptoms, including enlarged lymph nodes, fever, lameness, and joint swelling or pain.
Black-legged ticks are most often found in the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic parts of the U.S. but can be found anywhere. If you suspect your dog may have Lyme disease, speak with a BetterVet veterinarian. The doctor may suggest your dog receive blood work at home to help diagnose your dog's condition and select appropriate treatment.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (east of Rocky Mountains)
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is another common tickborne disease that can be caused by American dog ticks and brown dog ticks carrying the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. These types of ticks are most prevalent east of the Rocky Mountains and sometimes in California. The risk of being bitten by this tick is highest in the spring and summer.
Dogs with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can experience sudden symptoms, which can often be severe. Common symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever include fever, lethargy, anorexia, stiffness when walking, and neurological abnormalities.
Remember, early treatment can go a long way when treating tickborne illnesses, so schedule an appointment at the first sign of symptoms. Ehrlichiosis (Southwestern and Gulf Coast regions) is a tickborne illness that is caused by a specific type of bacteria known as Ehrlichia. Brown dog ticks and lone star ticks can carry this bacteria. These types of ticks are most often found in the southwestern and Gulf Coast regions of the United States, however, you may find them anywhere.
This tickborne illness affects the white blood cells and platelets in your dog's body. This can lead to a number of symptoms, such as loss of appetite, nose bleeds, frequent bruising, and lack of energy.
Symptoms of Tickborne Diseases in Dogs
If you suspect your dog may have been bitten by a tick, it's important to seek veterinary care promptly. When left untreated, tickborne diseases can have serious complications in dogs. Dogs with tickborne diseases may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Joint swelling or pain
- Muscle Pain
Worried about your dog but can't bring your furry friend to the vet? BetterVet offers mobile vet care, bringing exceptional veterinarians to your doorstep. Your pet can even receive their vaccinations in the comfort of your home, including those to help prevent the most common tickborne diseases, such as Lyme disease.
Preventing Tickborne Diseases
Safe and effective flea and tick prevention is important for keeping you and your furry friends happy and healthy! First and foremost, it's important to stay informed of the common ticks located in your region. During your visit with a BetterVet veterinarian, discuss preventative measures to help reduce the risk of your dog getting a tickborne disease. Medications such as a topical product, oral medication, or the Seresto tick collar may be an option for your dog.
If your dog spends time outdoors, it's important that you check them daily for ticks. Regular checks are a vital part of preventing tickborne diseases and catching tick bites promptly. If you do find a tick, it is recommended that you remove it quickly. Your BetterVet doctor can discuss proper tick removal with you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most common tickborne diseases?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most common tickborne diseases in the U.S. include Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Anaplasmosis, Southern tick-associated rash illness, and tick-borne relapsing fever.
Are ticks dangerous?
Diseases from tick bites can be dangerous for both humans and pets. However, most tick bites are painless and may only cause mild symptoms. Ticks that carry disease-causing agents pose a higher risk, as humans and pets can become ill when bitten by an infected tick.
Discuss Tick Prevention With BetterVet
Prevention can go a long way in keeping you and your pet healthy and protected from the most common tickborne illnesses. Book an appointment online or schedule a home visit to discuss important measures to keep your dog safe and ensure your dog's vaccines are up-to-date.