Protect Your Pet Against SevenTick-Borne Diseases

Protecting your pet against tick-borne diseases starts with a proactive approach. Your best line of defense against tick or any pet diseases is to strengthen their immune system through a balanced and nutritious diet. A pet with a strong and healthy immune system stands a better chance of fighting tick-borne diseases.

If your dog is a frequent hiking or camping companion, or you have a cat that spends a lot of time outdoors, you should know how to protect them against tick-borne diseases.

Woman hiking with dog - at risk for tick-borne disease
Photographer: Annie Theby

Lyme Disease

The most widely recognized of all tick-borne diseases. Transmitted by deer ticks and western black-legged ticks, it has spread throughout the northeastern US. This bacterial infection most commonly affects dogs and humans. Symptoms to look for in dogs include lymph node swelling, joint swelling, limping, fever, lethargy and a decrease in their appetite. Symptoms may not appear for weeks or months after an infected tick bites them.

Canine Ehrlichiosis

A blood infection transmitted by the brown dog tick and is specific to dogs. Symptoms may not be visible for months after the dog becomes infected with this tick-borne disease. Symptoms can include fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, swelling of the limbs, bleeding from the nose, nasal or ocular discharge and bruising.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Not limited only to the Rocky Mountain states. Both cats and dogs can be infected with this tick-borne disease. The culprit of this disease are the American dog ticks and lone star ticks. Symptoms may present suddenly and last for up to two weeks. Look for neurological deficits, a stiff gait, and a fever. Without treatment, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can result in death.

Anaplasmosis

Affect both dogs and cats and has symptoms similar to those of Lyme disease. Transmission is by deer ticks and the western black-legged tick. Additional symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

Babesiosis

A tick-borne disease blood infection that leads to anemia. Transmission is by the American dog tick and the brown dog tick. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, vomiting, and pale mucous membranes.

Hepatozoonosis

Has been reported in the mid-southern and eastern regions of the US. This tick-borne disease is transmitted by two kinds of ticks, the brown dog tick, and the Gulf tick. If a dog or cat ingests one of these infected ticks, they can contract the illness. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches and pains, bloody diarrhea and ocular or nasal discharge for dogs. Cat symptoms are slightly different and include lethargy, weakness, fever, swollen lymph nodes, anemia, abnormal blood clotting and the presence of a diagnosed virus or immune system disease.

Bartonellosis

A tick-borne disease transmitted by the brown dog tick. Symptoms are intermittent and include fever and limping.

Tick Bite Symptoms

Tick burrowing into a dog's skin. Could result in tick-borne disease

Not every tick bite results in a tick-borne disease. Here are the most commonly seen symptoms:

  • Small lump at the site of the bite
  • The skin may be red at the bite site
  • Joint swelling or noticeable limp
  • Lymph node swelling
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Swelling of the limbs
  • Bleeding from the Nose
  • Nasal or ocular discharge
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Stiff gait
  • Neurological deficits
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and/or bloody diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Weakness
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Presence of undiagnosed virus or immune system disease

Prevention of Tick-Born Disease is Prudent

Some of these tick-borne diseases can be treated. Be aware that treatments can have some adverse residual effects on your pet’s health. Provide your dog and cat with the best protection against tick-borne diseases before camping, hiking, or letting them roam the neighborhood.

  • Talk to your veterinarian about available vaccinations and make an informed decision about lowering the risk of tick-borne disease
  • Use a tick preventative product that is prescribed by your veterinarian
  • Conclude each day of hiking or camping by checking your dog thoroughly for ticks. If you reside in a heavily wooded area where ticks are prevalent, check your dog at the end of every day
  • Similarly, check your cat thoroughly when letting them back into your home
  • If you find an embedded tick, carefully remove it. Your veterinarian can show you how to accomplish this effectively
  • Learn here how to remove a tick from a pet

By being proactive in protecting your pet against tick-borne diseases, you and your furry companion can safely enjoy exploring nature together for many seasons to come.