Diseases Carried by Ticks

Today, ticks are an increasing concern for our pets as they are becoming more prevalent in both urban and rural areas. Ticks can transmit many diseases to our pets.

Lyme Disease – Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to dogs through the bite of the deer tick, also known as the black-legged tick. The bacterium localizes to the joints and kidneys. Clinical signs include generalized pain, inappetence, fever, and lameness.

Anaplasmosis – Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by the bacterial organism Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It is transmitted by both the deer tick and the western black-legged tick. A lesser form of the disease is caused by Anaplasma platys which are transmitted by the brown dog tick. Clinical signs include lameness, joint pain, fever, lethargy, and anorexia. Vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and laboured breathing may also be reported but are less common.

Ehrlichiosis – Ehrlichiosis is also a tick-borne disease transmitted by the brown dog tick. The disease is most severe in German shepherd and Doberman Pinscher breeds. The organism causing the disease is a rickettsial organism, which is similar to bacteria. Signs can be divided into three phases: acute, sub-clinical, and clinical/chronic. The acute phase includes clinical symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, respiratory distress, and weight loss. The sub-clinical phase is when the organism is present, but not causing any outward signs of disease. Finally, the clinical stage includes symptoms such as anemia, neurological problems, and swollen limbs.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever – this disease is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. The species of tick that transmits this disease varies depending on geographic location. It is not that common in Canada. As with other tick-borne diseases, clinical signs include poor appetite, non-specific muscle/joint pain, fever, coughing, and swelling of the face or legs.

Our 4Dx blood test screens for both heartworm and diseases carried by ticks including Lyme, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Avoiding grassy, wooded, areas and proper tick prevention can help minimize the risk of exposure. Talk to your Veterinarian today about tick prevention!

Written by: Briarwood Animal Hospital