Many people think that ticks can only affect humans but our dogs and cats are used more commonly as a host than we are. We understand that finding a tick on your pet is not ideal and it may be disturbing when you find one, but it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible since they can also pass on serious diseases.
Here are some important facts to know about ticks:
- Ticks can potentially transmit disease.
- Some tick species are expanding their ranges and moving into areas where they have not been found historically.
- Ticks can be found on pets during all seasons of the year, not just in the spring and summer.
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can affect humans, mammals, and birds through the bite of a deer tick.
Common signs of lyme disease in dogs is lameness. In some cases, the infection may cause your pet to run a fever, experience joint swelling, kidney damage and in some cases even neurological issues. Your pet may have an increase in thirst, an increase in urination, tiredness, and stiffness.
Your pet may start showing signs of these types of symptoms 2 to 5 months after the tick has bitten your pet and transmitted the bacterial disease to its host. A SNAP 4dx test will screen for lyme disease even if your pet is not showing any visible signs or symptoms. In some cases additional diagnostic testing may be needed such as a urine sample and bloodwork.
Thankfully Lyme disease is treatable, but the organism living within your pet’s body can be difficult to fully eliminate. Treatment can take about 4 weeks to clear with use of antibiotics however, if unsuccessful Lyme disease can cause lifelong permanent damage to your dog’s overall health.
The best way to prevent your pet from getting lyme disease is to use a good flea and tick prevention product. Ask your veterinarian for a personalized recommendation for your furry friend. It’s important to know, that although you’re using a preventative product, the tick is still able to attach itself to your pet. So, it’s important to scan your pet’s coat daily to be sure that none have attached, and if you happen to find one be sure to remove it. It is important to carefully remove a tick so that the head remains attached to itself. You do not want the head to still be attached to your pet’s skin.
Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. This bacteria is spread to humans and their pet’s by tick bites, similar to that of Lyme disease.
Signs of a possible anaplasmosis infection vary but can include lethargy, lameness, neck pain, bruising of gums and belly, and even some neurological symptoms. The majority of pets might show no symptoms at all, however some pets can show symptoms for as long as one to seven days. The most frequently seen signs that would alert you as a pet parent would be tiredness and stiffness of joints. There is no vaccine to prevent anaplasmosis in your pet, so it is recommended to keep current with your flea and tick preventatives. Monthly flea and tick preventatives like Bravecto and Activyl help prevent ticks while also providing protection against fleas too.
Many pets clear the anaplasmosis infection without treatment and with no lengthened repercussions. However, we recommend annual 4dx tests to test exposure and determine further treatment.
If you’re petting or brushing your pet and you find a tick, don’t hesitate to call us here at Brook Farm Veterinary Center with any questions you may have. You are more than welcome to bring your pet in if you would like assistance in removing a tick that is attached to your pet and receive further testing to see if they’ve become infected with any tick-borne diseases.