Infections and Diseases from Ticks on Dogs

Ticks on dogs are the gross looking things that attach themselves to a dog’s skin and feast on his blood. As the tick sucks blood from a dog, it grows in size. Not only do ticks cause skin irritation, but they also cause of variety of illnesses in dogs. Preventative measures are an important part of protecting your dog against tick-borne illnesses.

How Do Dogs Get Ticks?

Ticks are more common in heavily wooded areas and areas of limited development. Ticks live in the grass and on trees until they find hosts to provide their meals. While ticks can be found nationwide, they are more common in rural areas. Because dogs like to play in the fields and hunt in the forests, there is no question that this is how dogs come into contact with ticks. Even if your dog is not allowed to roam, a simple potty break in the front yard can allow him to be bitten by a tick.

Tick-Borne Illnesses and Symptoms

Lyme disease is the most commonly carried disease by ticks. It is caused by a bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi which infests itself in the stomach of ticks. When a tick carrying this disease bites your dog, the transfer of blood between the tick and your dog allows for the transmission of the disease. If your dog is infected with this disease, your dog may run a slight fever, show general fatigue and may not be as hungry as he would otherwise be.

Babesiosis is a bacterial disease that is caused by the species of organism known as Babesia canis. It is much less common than Lyme disease, but appears to be more prevalent in the southern states. This disease can fester over many years and can be a very life-threatening situation if not treated promptly. Babesiosis can also cause loss of appetite, but because it causes a huge loss of blood, it can lead to conditions of anemia.

Ehrlichiosis is a disease of the blood which can also be transmitted by ticks. This is another potentially life-threatening illness for dogs. In the case of ehrlichiosis, it is probable that some dogs will die immediately after becoming infected. However, not all do and the infection will then continue to grow if not stopped by treated. Ehrlichiosis causes symptoms similar to Lyme disease.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, or RMSF, is another tick-borne illness that your dog is susceptible to. It is equally as common as the infection of Lyme disease. RMSF is caused by an organism called R. rickettsii. While this disease also produces symptoms that are similar to Lyme disease, it can also cause blood to appear in the urine, a bruised appearance of the skin and swelling of the arms and legs. This disease is equally as fatal if not treated promptly.

Prevention of Tick-borne Illnesses

There is not one disease that can be contracted from ticks that should be taken lightly. While some are worse than others, all of the diseases carried by ticks have the potential to be life-threatening. So, being proactive in protecting your dog is his best defense.

Frontline, Hartz and BioSpot all have flea and tick control topical ointments that you can buy for your dog. These treatments are typically applied to your dog’s skin between his shoulder blades. Because the protection of the topical typically only lasts for 30 days, it is a practice that needs to be repeated monthly. These topical ointments are inexpensive and highly effective at preventing fleas and ticks.

Because tick-borne illnesses are dangerous to your dog, it is of major importance that you provide him with a monthly protection plan against ticks.