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Posted on 04-13-2016

Common Tick Infestation Symptoms in Dogs (Information and diagram from a Carrington College student Audrey Jenkins)

Yes, tick season is here.  Beware…..

Ticks are small yet dangerous pests. Not only can they cause a range of serious health problems for your dog, they are also capable of jumping from pets onto you or your children. Furthermore, there are no vaccinations for many types of tick-borne diseases.

Sounds scary, but accurate information is part of prevention and being prepared. Being aware of symptoms of tick-borne diseases can help you get treatment for your pet before serious problems occur. The following are some common symptoms (signs) that may indicate your dog is battling a disease that was carried to your pet by a tick.

  1. Unwillingness to Move

There may be several reasons why your pet may not feel very active or have an unwillingness to move in a normal manner. However, if your pet becomes more inactive than normal, appears to be in pain or becomes lame on one or more legs, it may have Lyme disease (web link)

  1. Eating and Digestive Problems

Tick infestations (web link) commonly come with a loss of appetite. In addition, Canine Hepatozoonosis can cause diarrhea and Canine Babesiosis may trigger vomiting while Canine Anaplasmosis can cause both diarrhea and vomiting.

  1.  Neurological and other Health issues

Ticks may cause mild to serious neurological problems from depressions to seizures.  Some may be hard to distinguish, others are very clear.  If your dog not only seems out of sorts but also has a fever (use a rectal thermometer)  the problem may be from a tick bite infection. A tick illness can also include clinical signs such as swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints and difficulty breathing.

Clearly, with most of these signs you would not want to delay diagnostic testing and medical treatment and should be calling for medical assistance ASAP.  Fortunately, not all tick-borne infections cause clinical disease.  The Lyme disease bacteria can be present in your dog without any ill health effects.  Annual testing is recommended because signs of the disease can show up at any future date. 

If you do spot a tick on your pet, Carrington College suggests (web link) to stay calm, don’t panic! J. You have time.  The tick isn’t going anywhere soon.   Carefully remove the tick by using gloves and tweezers. Try to make sure to remove the head that is usually buried under the skin by “tweezing” a bit of skin with the tick’s head and body.  Then, apply antiseptic to the tick-bitten area and drop the tick into a small container filled with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol.  This will help your veterinarian identify what type of disease the tick may carry in case your dog develops any of the symptoms mentioned above.  Or you can always flush it down the toilet (they can crawl out of sinks).  And since some ticks can carry more than one type of disease, a blood sample that can test for specific tick diseases is usually done regardless of the type of tick present. 

Your dog can catch the same disease or other tick-borne diseases in the future, so be sure to check your pet regularly for ticks and use a tick collar or topical treatment to prevent future health issues.  In addition, since unfortunately, your pet does not build up an immunity to most common tick-borne diseases it still may become ill from any future bites. There is a vaccination for Lyme disease which can reduce future infections but neither the vaccination nor any of the topical preventative methods are 100% protective. 

Tick season is here!  Be AWARE, Be PREPARED

Link to the following chart (click here)

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