If you are like many pet owners, as the summer season rolls around, your pet will spend more time outdoors. Most pets love the fresh air, as well as the increase in the ability to exercise that summer brings. Unfortunately, your pets are not the only ones who will be outside. Summer is also the height of tick season. Not only are ticks a nasty nuisance whose goal is to get a free meal off of your pet's blood, but they may also spread some pretty serious diseases to both you and your pet. Many times the signs and symptoms of an infectious tick bite can be very similar. Knowing what to look for is often the key to a quick diagnosis.
Lyme Disease - One of the most prevalent tick borne diseases found in recent years throughout Canada is Lyme disease. Caused by the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi, this can be a really serious disease in both dogs and humans.
One of the first signs and symptoms you may see if your pet contracts this disease is lameness that shifts from one leg and then to the other. This lameness may only last a couple of days before it goes away. The joint may appear to be swollen and may be warm or tender to the touch. This is due to the disease causing inflammation in your pet's joints.
Your dog may also exhibit difficulty breathing, fever, a loss of appetite, or a disinterest in some of their favorite activities. If not treated, the disease can lead to kidney damage and fluid build up. If the disease is found in the early stages, treatment is not very difficult. Your pet can easily be treated with a round of certain antibiotics.
Anaplasmosis - Another tick borne disease that you do not hear as much about can be just as serious. Anaplasmosis in your dog can be found in two different forms.
Anaplasma phagocytophilum - is spread by the infected deer tick, which is also the same type of tick that spreads Lyme disease. This form of the disease causes an infection of the white blood cells in your pet, and you if you are bitten.
The symptoms of this disease are very similar to the ones you will see for Lyme disease. Your pet will exhibit lameness, as well as a loss of appetite, and a loss of energy.
Anaplasma platys - is spread by the brown dog tick. It causes an infection of the blood platelets, which can lead to a wide variety of bleeding disorders. If your pet is infected, you may notice bruising on their belly or on their gums. Your pet may also exhibit spontaneous nosebleeds.
The good news is that treatment for either condition when they are caught early enough is as simple as a course of the antibiotic doxycycline. Most of the time your pet will show signs of recovery within one to two days after treatment is begun.
Canine Ehrlichiosis - This is another disease spread by the brown deer tick. You may also hear it called canine hemorrhagic fever, canine typhus, or canine rickettsiosis, just to name a few. Out of all of the tick borne diseases, this one can be one of the most serious. It has been known to affect most breeds of dogs, and some cats as well. Some breeds of dogs, such as a German Shepard, tend to have more severe cases than other breeds.
This disease often will manifest in several different stages.
- Acute stage - begins one to three weeks after your pet is bitten, and can last up to a month. Symptoms during this stage may include fever, runny eyes and nose, busted blood vessels in the eyes, frequent nosebleeds and swollen limbs, and a swollen scrotum.
- Subclinical stage - during which all symptoms may seem to go away. There is no time frame on how long this phase will last.
- Chronic stage - once you begin to see signs and symptoms again, your pet has probably entered the chronic phase. During this time you will be able to see weight loss, various bleeds, coughing and lameness, as well as neurological disorders. Once your dog enters this stage, it can be very difficult to treat them, and the disease may prove to be fatal.
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a tick and has contracted any of these diseases, you will want to have them quickly seen by your veterinarian. They will be able to perform blood tests, urinalysis and x-rays, as well as draw fluid from the infected joints to look for bacteria, parasites, and fungi, to determine if your pet is suffering from any of these conditions. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are the keys to a successful recovery. For more information, contact a local vet clinic.