Ticks are small insects that live by taking blood meals from mammals. They are found in most parts of the United States.
Ticks can carry several diseases that infect dogs and cats (as well as people and other mammals) by transmitting microscopic bacteria or organisms into the bloodstream.
These microscopic invaders can cause Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever as well as several less commonly known diseases such as Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis. All of these ailments have the potential to cause serious and life threatening illness.
Signs of illness vary widely by disease, but frequently share some common themes of:
- skin rashes
- decreased appetite or water intake
- history of tick exposure
- evidence of tick bites
Numerous other problems can be seen depending on the specific infection.
Diagnosis is based on symptoms, examination findings, history of tick exposure, laboratory testing, response to treatment and sometimes x-rays.
Treatment varies widely based on the type and severity of disease, but usually includes antibiotics, fluid therapy, hospitalization, anti-inflammatories and, in serious cases, blood transfusions.
- Use all medication as prescribed by your veterinarian
- Reduction of tick exposure is the single most effective method of disease prevention.
- Tick repellant collars and treatments exist. Be sure to read and follow all label directions. Consult your veterinarian for what is the safest and most effective.
- It may be possible to comb or brush ticks out of your pet's coat immediately after exposure to tick infested areas. This will reduce the potential for tick bites.
- Vaccination against Lyme disease offers protection for your dog.
If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact your Banfield hospital today.