Ticks are nasty little creatures, no matter how you cut it. Besides not wanting to see them on your pets because they can be a little gross to remove, they can also transmit a variety of tick-borne illnesses, too. Understanding the more common tick-borne diseases can help you to understand how important it is to prevent tick exposure, especially during the peak times of spring and autumn.
Lyme Disease in Pets
Most people have heard of Lyme disease, and know the devastation it can cause. Unfortunately, symptoms of Lyme disease may not occur for weeks, or even months, after exposure to a tick.
Symptoms of Lyme disease often include:
- Lameness (which may shift from let to leg)
- A stiff walk with an arched back
- Sensitive to touch
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
If your pet has suffered from a tick bite, and we think that he or she may have Lyme disease, a blood test will be recommended. This test detects antibodies against the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Pets that have been exposed, but are not actively infected, may also have a positive result to this test. Lyme disease is treated with an antibiotic, which is very effective at clearing the infection in pets.
It is important to know that not all ticks carry Lyme disease. The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) is the only species that carries Lyme disease. With a little practice, identifying ticks is relatively easy to do.
Anaplasmosis in Pets
Anaplasmosis is perhaps a little lesser known than Lyme disease. It is caused by a bacteria that is carried by the tick. The bacteria, when introduced into the pet’s body, invades the blood cells.
The most common symptoms include fever, lethargy, sore or swollen joints, and anorexia. Anaplasmosis is most common during the spring and early summer and then again in the fall.
Blood testing is usually fairly quick and accurate. Most pets respond well to antibiotic treatment.
If you find a tick on your pet, please bring him or her in to have us remove it, or remove it using proper technique. As with many diseases, prevention is the best treatment for tick-borne disease. We can recommend a good quality tick preventative to use routinely. There are great options for any pet, let us help you pick the right product. It is also important to examine your pet frequently and remove any ticks as necessary, as no tick preventative is perfect as of yet. Ticks are troublesome creatures, but with a little preparation, you can protect your pets against them and the diseases that they can carry.