Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs

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As responsible pet owners, we always want the best for our furry companions. One of the significant concerns for dog owners is the threat of tick-borne diseases. Ticks can transmit various illnesses to our dogs, making it essential to be vigilant and proactive in preventing these diseases. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the world of tick-borne diseases in dogs, discussing how to spot, remove, and prevent ticks effectively. Best Friends Animal Hospital, your trusted veterinary partner in Manchester, NH, is here to provide you with valuable insights to keep your canine friends healthy. If you have any concerns or need professional assistance, call us at (603) 625-2378 to schedule an appointment.

Understanding Tick-Borne Diseases

Tick-borne diseases are a real threat to dogs, and it’s crucial to understand the various illnesses they can transmit. There are a few common tick-borne diseases that your dog may be at risk for. 

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is perhaps the most well-known tick-borne illness. It’s caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Symptoms may include fever, lameness, joint pain, and lethargy. Early detection and treatment are essential to prevent complications.

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is another tick-borne disease that can affect dogs. It’s caused by different species of Ehrlichia bacteria and transmitted through the bite of infected brown dog ticks. Symptoms may vary but can include fever, loss of appetite, and nosebleeds. Timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial for recovery.

Anaplasmosis

In addition to Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis, there are other tick-borne diseases like Anaplasmosis that can affect dogs. This disease is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma spp., which is transmitted through the bite of infected ticks, including the black-legged tick and the western black-legged tick. Anaplasmosis has various symptoms, including fever, joint pain, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Just like Lyme Disease and Ehrlichiosis, diagnosing and treating anaplasmosis requires a thorough examination and appropriate testing by a veterinarian.

Spotting Ticks on Your Dog

Now that we understand the risks, let’s discuss how to spot ticks on your furry friend. Regular tick checks are essential, especially after outdoor activities. If your pet has spent some time outdoors, it’s important to check them for any unwanted guests. Here’s how to start: 

  • Conduct Thorough Inspections: After your dog has been outdoors, carefully inspect their fur, paying special attention to areas like the ears, neck, between the toes, and under the tail. Ticks are small, so be diligent in your search.
  • Feel for Bumps: Run your hands over your dog’s body, feeling for any unusual bumps or lumps. Ticks can sometimes be easier to feel than see.
  • Look for Embedded Ticks: Ticks can attach themselves firmly to your dog’s skin. If you spot one, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull it out gently but firmly. Be sure to remove the entire tick, including its mouthparts, to prevent infection.

Tick Prevention Measures

Prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe from tick-borne diseases. Parasite prevention is easier and more affordable when it comes to any kind of treatment, and tick prevention is no different. There are various methods to prevent ticks from afflicting your dog, including: 

Using Tick Preventatives

One of the most effective ways to protect your dog from tick-borne diseases is to use tick preventatives recommended by your veterinarian. These products come in various forms, including spot-on treatments, collars, and oral medications. They work by either repelling ticks or killing them if they attach to your dog.

  • Spot-On Treatments: These are typically applied between your dog’s shoulder blades and provide long-lasting protection. The active ingredients spread through your dog’s skin oils, creating a shield against ticks. Be sure to follow the application instructions provided by your vet carefully.
  • Tick Collars: Tick collars contain chemicals that repel and kill ticks. They are worn around your dog’s neck and can provide extended protection. Make sure the collar fits snugly but comfortably, and trim any excess length to prevent your dog from chewing on it.
  • Oral Medications: Some oral medications are designed to kill ticks once they bite your dog. These can be a convenient and effective option. Ensure you administer the medication as directed by your veterinarian.

Maintaining a Tidy Yard

Ticks often lurk in tall grass, shrubs, and wooded areas. Keeping your yard well-maintained is a crucial step in tick prevention:

  • Regular Lawn Maintenance: Mow your lawn regularly to keep the grass short. Ticks are less likely to thrive in shorter grass where they have less cover.
  • Clear Debris: Remove leaf piles, brush, and other debris from your yard. Ticks can hide in these areas, waiting for an opportunity to attach to passing animals.
  • Create a Tick Barrier: Consider creating a barrier between wooded or grassy areas and your living space. This can be done by using gravel or wood chips as a buffer zone.

Avoiding Tick-Infested Areas

While it’s not always possible to avoid tick-prone environments, being aware of high-risk areas can help reduce exposure:

  • Stay on Trails: When hiking or walking in natural areas, stick to well-maintained trails and avoid wandering into tall grass or dense vegetation where ticks may be more prevalent.
  • Tick Season Awareness: Be especially cautious during peak tick season, which typically occurs in the spring and early summer. Check with local resources or your veterinarian to determine when ticks are most active in your region.
  • Tick-Proof Your Property: Consider tick-proofing your yard with the help of professionals who can use tick-repellent treatments to create a safer outdoor environment for your dog.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Lastly, regular check-ups with your veterinarian are crucial. They can provide vaccinations against some tick-borne diseases and perform tick screenings. If your dog does contract a tick-borne illness, early detection is essential for effective treatment.

Partner with Best Friends Animal Hospital 

Protecting your dog from tick-borne diseases requires a combination of awareness, prevention, and regular veterinary care. By following these guidelines and partnering with Best Friends Animal Hospital in Manchester, NH, you can ensure that your furry companion enjoys a happy and tick-free life. If you have any concerns or need professional advice, call us at (603) 625-2378 to schedule an appointment.

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