Canines and Tick-Borne Disease

Canines and Tick-Borne Disease

It is not uncommon for a dog to be infected with a dangerous tick-transmitted disease. These parasites attach themselves to canines before feeding on blood, which ultimately transmits diseases directly into a dog’s system. Of the major tick-borne diseases that get transmitted, they include:

  • Canine Ehrlichiosis. Caused by the brown dog tick, this is one of the most common and dangerous tick-borne disease organisms which are known to infect dogs. While symptoms may not surface for months after transmission, they include loss of appetite, depression, weight loss, fever, eye and nasal discharge, swollen limbs and nose bleeds.
  • Canine Anaplasmosis. Also referred to as dog tick fever or dog fever, this is transmitted from the deer tick and symptoms include fever, stiff joints, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and in extreme cases, seizures.
  • Lyme Disease. From the deer tick, Lyme disease causes stiffness, loss of appetite, lameness, swollen joints, fatigue and fever. Dogs may not show symptoms until months after infection.
  • Canine Babesiosis. This is often transmitted by the brown dog tick and American dog tick and can cause anemia. Symptoms include weakness, pale gums and vomiting.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Caused by the lone star tick, wood tick and American dog tick, this illness typically lasts about two weeks but in serious instances it could also result in death. Symptoms include stiffness, fever, skin lesions and neurological problems.
  • Canine Bartonellosis. This is caused by the brown dog tick and symptoms include intermittent lameness and fever. When left untreated, this can result in liver or heart disease.
  • Canine Hepatozoonosis. This is thought to be transmitted by the Gulf Coast tick and the brown dog tick—dogs can get infected if they eat either of these disease-carrying ticks. Symptoms of Canine Hepatozoonosis include runny eyes and nose, fever, muscle pain and bloody diarrhea.

How Are Tick-Borne Diseases Treated?

Early diagnosis and treatment are the key to combating tick-borne disease. There are many broad-spectrum antibiotics that are available, especially during the early stages of a disease. Since antibiotics don’t discriminate against “good” and “bad” bacteria, antibiotic treatment destroys beneficial bacteria as well as disease-causing organisms. Probiotics may be recommended so as to avoid any gastrointestinal problems. And of course, always follow the treatment plan recommended by your veterinarian.

How Can I Prevent Tick-Borne Diseases from Affecting my Dog?

  • Annual veterinary exams are necessary, as the doctor can screen for these diseases. Tests are usually fast, and you can get results while you wait.
  • There are many medications and products which prevent ticks from affecting your dog. There are over-the-counter and prescribed options, which include tick collars and preventative vaccinations. There is not one method that offers 100 percent protection.
  • If you see a tick inside your house, a professional exterminator may be necessary to eliminate these pests. Please note, you may have to move out for a while to allow the chemicals to dissipate.
  • Check your dog daily for ticks during tick season. Feel their fur for any small bumps, and if you find any pull the fur apart to identify it. Ticks will vary in size, from a grape to a pinhead, and they are usually black or dark brown.
  • If you do find a tick, consider bringing it to the clinic so we can safely remove it properly. This process is delicate, since a piece might break off and remain in your dog’s skin if the removal has been done improperly.  


At PAVG, we are always committed to making sure your pet stays happy and healthy. If you have questions about tick-borne diseases, please contact us at our following locations:

Chillicothe: 309-273-1909

Dunlap: 309-439-9522

Dunlap II: 309-413-0527

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