Tick-Borne Diseases: Signs & Symptoms of a Tick Bite on a Dog

You may have heard that ticks are only a seasonal issue. But ticks are a significant threat to dogs and people year-round.

And while not all ticks carry disease, tick bites can cause big problems for you and your pet. As a good pet parent, it’s important to know what to expect if you find a tick on your dog.

Understand the signs and symptoms of a tick bite on a dog to keep your pets safe from tick-borne diseases.

Table of Contents

3 ways to tell if your dog has a tick

1. Know what a tick bite looks like on a dog.

Ticks can be difficult to see, which makes it hard to tell the difference between a skin tag and a tick. An embedded or engorged tick takes on the color of the dog’s skin and may appear dark red, brown or grey. If the tick has fallen off, your dog may have red, inflamed skin or scabs from the tick bite.

2. Observe your dog’s behaviors.

There are unique tick bite symptoms in dogs depending on the disease. Here are a few signs your dog has a tick and what to look for:

  • Licking or chewing body parts: Dogs make it clear when they have irritated skin. Anytime your pet spends extra time focusing on a specific area there’s likely an underlying issue. Inspect the spot thoroughly for evidence of ticks.
  • Shaking head and ears: Ticks like to find secure and comfortable spots to feed, which makes your dog’s long ear canals an ideal home. If you notice your dog is shaking their head and ears you’ll want to take a closer look.
  • Low energy: You may notice a sudden change in your dog’s energy levels after they’ve been bitten by an infected tick. If your typically active pup chooses nap time over play time, check for signs of anemia. These symptoms include pale gums, panting, and a loss of appetite.

3. Recognize the symptoms of tick bites on dogs.

There are unique symptoms of each tick-borne disease. But in most cases you can expect to see similar signs. So what are the symptoms of tick-borne disease in dogs?

The most common symptom is tick fever. And the symptoms of tick fever in dogs are much like general tick-borne disease symptoms. They include:

  • Wobbling or limping
  • Weakness or decreased energy
  • Loss of appetite or vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Coughing or difficulty breathing
  • Red or glassy-looking eyes
  • Warm ears and/or nose
  • Panting or shivering
  • Runny nose

What are tick borne diseases in dogs

Every tick bite is different. The danger of disease transmission for dogs and humans occurs during the tick’s feeding process. The longer they stay, the more likely they are to transmit disease.

Learn the most common tick-borne illnesses in dogs including:

  • When and where ticks transmit disease
  • Tick-borne disease symptoms to look out for
  • How to treat tick-borne diseases in dogs

6 common tick borne diseases in dogs

1. Canine Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. Most cases come from the blacklegged tick and occur in the northeastern and upper midwestern states.

Unique symptoms

Lyme disease symptoms may not appear until 2-5 months after the initial tick bite and include fever, lameness or stiff joints, difficulty breathing, and frequent urination.

How to treat

Most tick-borne diseases need antibiotics or antiprotozoals to help your pet. While there is a vaccine for Lyme disease, it’s important to consult with your vet to choose the right treatment.

How to prevent

Give your dog a thorough check for ticks after spending time outdoors. Safely remove ones you can find and consider a preventative tick treatment to keep your pet safe in the future.

2. Canine Ehrlichiosis.

Ehrlichiosis is an infectious disease in dogs, native to the southern states. Brown dog ticks are primary carriers, but lone star and American dog ticks can also carry the disease.

Unique symptoms

An infected dog may experience fever, lethargy, weight loss, abnormal bleeding, and neurological confusion.

How to treat

Your veterinarian will likely treat Ehrlichiosis with an antibiotic. Depending on your pet’s needs they may also use a steroid to improve your dog’s conditions.

How to prevent

Keep your pet’s environment clear of ticks, examine your dog regularly, and use a tick preventative to avoid infection.

3. Canine Babesiosis.

Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease that occurs in the southern states. Blacklegged (deer) ticks are the most common carriers of Babesiosis. But, there are cases where dogs contracted the disease through an infected dog bite and compromised blood transfusions.

Unique symptoms

There is a wide range of symptoms for Babesiosis. The most common include dark urine, pale gums, and changes in their mental state.

How to treat

To fight Babesiosis most vets will prescribe an antiprotozoal drug. Your vet may make additional recommendations to continue treatment for blood or fluid loss overtime.

How to prevent

If your dog spends time in a kennel with poor tick control, they are at a higher risk for Babesiosis. Protect your pet with an effective flea and tick treatment and practice regular examinations to look for ticks.

4. Canine Anaplasmosis.

A bacteria called Anaplasma platys causes canine anaplasmosis in dogs, which attacks a dog’s platelets. Black legged ticks are primary carriers which makes this disease most common on the far west coast and northeastern states.

Unique symptoms

Most dogs don’t show any clinical symptoms of infection, but some noticeable signs include joint pain, limping, and blindness.

How to treat

The best way to combat this infection is with an antibiotic. As soon as you notice symptoms in your pet, call your veterinarian to determine the right treatment.

How to prevent

Proactive tick treatment is the best way to ensure your pet stays healthy and avoids infection. If you haven’t started a treatment yet, regular tick checks are key to catch tick activity early on.

Read more  Nutrition for Dogs with Chronic Kidney Disease

5. Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a tick-borne illness found throughout the United States—mostly east of the Rocky Mountains. An infectious bacteria called Rickettsia rickettsii, which causes RMSF, transmits through both nymph and adult American dog and brown dog ticks.

Unique symptoms

It can take a few hours to a few days for the parasite to fully make its way into your pet. This means symptoms may take a while to appear. Typical symptoms of RMSF are diarrhea, swelling of the face or legs, and nosebleeds in severe cases.

How to treat

Like other tick-borne diseases, Rocky Mountain spotted fever is effectively treated with a series of antibiotics. Especially when diagnosed and treated in the early stages.

How to prevent

Avoiding wooded areas is a great, but not always practical, way to lessen the chance of ticks. Pairing regular inspections with an effective flea and tick treatment will improve your chances of preventing ticks and infectious disease.

6. Tularemia (Rabbit Fever).

Tularemia, also called “Rabbit Fever” is a tick-borne disease that is common in rabbits and small rodents. The bacteria (Francisella tularensis) which causes Tularemia is carried by American dog ticks.

Unique symptoms

Unhealthy or older dogs may experience severe symptoms from Tularemia. This can include dehydration, abdominal pain, white patches on the tongue, and throat infection.

How to treat

To treat Tularemia your vet may prescribe an antibiotic. The sooner treatment begins, the better chance you have to help your pet.

How to prevent

Tularemia is unique because humans can contract the disease from an infected animal. So, make sure you wash your hands and use protective gloves when caring for your pet. And as always use a flea and tick treatment to prevent disease.

How to test for tick borne diseases in dogs

To diagnose your pet for any type of tick-borne disease you’ll need to visit your veterinarian. If your dog begins to show symptoms, especially after a tick encounter, your vet may order a urine or blood test.

Blood tests will help confirm the presence of antibodies in your dog’s body. Your vet may also examine your pet for evidence of ticks. This will help them better understand the tick exposure and determine the right treatment plan.

How to treat a tick bite on a dog

For the health of your pet, it’s important to know what to put on a tick bite on a dog. First safely remove the tick, then follow these steps for treating a tick bite:

1. Clean the infected area.

Use an antiseptic like isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to make sure the bite is clear of any bacteria. Make sure you dilute the antiseptic with water and carefully dab the infected area with a cotton ball or towel.

2. Use a flea and tick preventative.

Ticks aren’t just a summer hazard—many ticks can last through harsh winter conditions and survive indoors. Keep your pet protected all year with a vet-quality flea and tick preventative.

3. Check for signs of infection.

Even after safely removing the tick, your dog can still get infected. Keep a gauge on how your dog looks and feels after a tick encounter, and if symptoms start or worsen be sure to visit a vet.

— Update: 08-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Tick Fever in Dogs – Symptoms & Treatment from the website www.charlotte.carolinavet.com for the keyword symptoms of a tick bite in dogs.

Symptoms of a tick bite in dogs

Tick fever is a condition seen in dogs caused by the Rickettsia rickettsii bacteria which (in the US) is spread primarily through the bite of an infected American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, or brown dog tick. Today our Charlotte vets explain some of the symptoms of tick fever in dogs, and how this condition can be treated.

Tick Fever (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)

Rickettsia rickettsii is an intracellular parasite which can be spread through the bite of an infected American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, or brown dog tick. If your pup is bitten by an infected tick transmission of the bacterial will take about 10 minutes if the tick has recently fed, however, if the tick has not recently fed it can take up to 10 hours for the bacterial to be transmitted to your pup.

People are also susceptible to tick fever. While there are no reported cases of direct dog to human transmissions, pet parents need to be especially careful when removing ticks from their pet, since people can become infected following contact with tick blood, lymph fluids or excretions during the removal of engorged ticks from their pets.

Tick fever is not contagious between dogs however an infected tick may move from one pet to another spreading the disease between pets.

Symptoms of Tick Fever in Dogs

Once your dog is infected by the bacteria it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to begin to show. The symptoms of tick fever in dogs are somewhat vague and extremely varied in nature making a diagnosis of tick fever challenging in some cases. Some of the most common symptoms of tick fever in dogs include:

In more severe cases dogs may exhibit round, purplish-red spots inside of the eyelids and mouth caused by bleeding below the surface. About 30% of dogs will experience central nervous system symptoms such as:

Diagnosing Tick Fever

When diagnosing tick fever in dogs, your vet will examine your pup for signs of the symptoms listed above and may recommend diagnostic testing such as blood tests, urinalysis and x-rays.

Blood test results that point to tick fever include low platelet count, anemia, and abnormal white blood cell counts. Other diagnostic tests can be useful in detecting low protein levels, abnormal calcium levels, electrolyte abnormalities, and abnormal liver or kidney values which point towards a diagnosis of tick fever.

Tick Fever Treatment in Dogs

If your vet believes that your pup has tick fever they may prescribe a round of antibiotics even before test results have come back. This is because any delay in treatment could cause symptoms to become increasingly severe and possibly even fatal. Most dogs respond to antibiotic treatment within 24 to 48 hours, although dogs with severe cases of the disease may not respond at all to treatment.

The most common antibiotics used to treat tick fever in dogs include tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline.

In some cases, your vet may also recommend a blood transfusion to treat anemia or other supportive therapies.

Prognosis For Dogs with Tick Fever

Dogs diagnosed and treated early for tick fever generally recover well, with few complications. In some cases, lifelong immunity will occur after the infection has been cleared.

Unfortunately, dogs with more advanced cases of tick fever are at higher risk for complications of the disease such as kidney disease, neurological disease, vasculitis, and coagulopathies. In these cases, the prognosis is guarded since complications can be severe.

How to Protect Your Dog Against Tick Fever

Preventing tick fever primarily comes down to controlling ticks, and your dog’s contact with ticks. Year-round preventive medications from your vet can help to kill ticks that begin feeding on your pooch, and taking the time to examine your dog for ticks each time you return home from a walk can help to prevent the transmission of the bacteria to your pet.

Any ticks found on your pet should be swiftly and properly removed using tweezers to grasp the tick gently right where it enters your dog’s skin, then pulling the tick straight off. Do not tightly grasp, or squeeze the tick. Handy tick removal devices are available from most vets and pet stores. These little tools can make tick removal fast and simple. Do not touch the tick as fluids and excretions from an infected tick can spread the disease to humans. 

Read more  7 Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

If you are unsure about how to remove ticks, visit your vet where they will be happy to show you how, or remove the tick for you.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

— Update: 09-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 7 Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention from the website toegrips.com for the keyword symptoms of a tick bite in dogs.

Tick-borne diseases in dogs can cause an array of symptoms and a range of long-term effects. If your dog loves the outdoors, it’s crucial to know the 7 main tick-borne diseases in dogs and how to minimize your furry friend’s exposure. Integrative veterinarian Dr. Julie Buzby shows you how to enjoy the fresh air while keeping a wise eye on the silent—and oft-hidden—risks of tick-borne diseases.

Few sights warm your heart more than seeing your dog explore the outdoors, fetch a favorite toy, and roll around on the green grass simply enjoying life (if only we all could be as exuberant!). 

And while outside play and exercise are beneficial for your dog, there may be an unseen danger lurking outside your back door—one too important for you to ignore: ticks and tick-borne diseases.

How can ticks make dogs sick?

Tick-borne diseases in dogs happen when an infected tick attaches itself to your dog, feeds on his blood, and then transmits the infection to your dog’s body. And it’s not just ticks—mosquitoes, fleas, sand flies, and black flies transmit over a dozen infections, known as vector-borne diseases. Both animals and humans are susceptible to vector-borne diseases.

I’ve seen and treated hundreds of dogs suffering from tick-borne disease. So it’s high on my list of concerns for my veterinary patients, particularly in the warm spring and hot summer months.

Causes of tick-borne diseases

Most tick-borne diseases are caused by bacteria. Typically, other animals (such as deer) are reservoirs for the diseases. The ticks feed off of reservoir animals, acquire the bacteria, and then spread the bacteria to their next hosts. The tick has to be attached for a period of time—up to 24 hours, depending on the disease—before the disease-causing bacteria is transmitted into the bloodstream.

Symptoms of these diseases don’t always start immediately following infection, so these conditions are on my mind even if I don’t find a tick on my canine patient when illness presents.

Symptoms of a tick bite in dogs
Dogs usually get sick from the bacteria transmitted to them when a tick feeds.

Symptoms of tick-borne disease in dogs

Unfortunately, diagnosis of tick-borne diseases can be a little tricky. One reason for this is that the symptoms of tick-borne illness can be pretty non-specific.

Signs of tick-borne disease in dogs can include:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy)
  • Neurological problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

Because signs can be so non-specific, it can be hard to diagnose tick-borne illness in dogs unless you’re looking for it.

Next, let’s take a deeper dive into tick-borne diseases and look at seven types, their symptoms, and tips for prevention.

7 most common tick-borne diseases in dogs

If you’re like most, Lyme is the first disease to come to mind, but there are other debilitating and potentially fatal tick-borne diseases. Let’s first discuss Lyme and then move on to the other less common diseases.

1. Lyme disease

Lyme disease is the most well-known and widespread tick disease in dogs—comprising nearly 82% of all vector-borne illnesses. 

Blacklegged ticks, also known as deer ticks, spread Lyme disease.

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs

A majority of dogs who are infected with the bacteria that causes Lyme disease will actually never show symptoms. Sometimes vets discover Lyme as an incidental finding on routine annual testing in dogs. Symptoms of Lyme disease in your dog may surface weeks or even months after infection.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Joint inflammation
  • Recurrent lameness
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Interestingly, the dog often goes lame in the leg nearest the tick bite. Then joint inflammation leads to swelling and lameness that can migrate from one leg to another—a hallmark sign of bacteria moving through the body. In its most severe form, Lyme disease can impact the kidneys and quickly become fatal. 

Symptoms of a tick bite in dogs
Being aware of ticks in your area, and the diseases they carry, can help you monitor for symptoms in your dog.

Prevention of Lyme disease in dogs

A common misconception is that Lyme is only in certain parts of the country. While it is certainly more common in some areas, ticks live everywhere. So you should always take precautions to lower your dog’s chance of contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite.

Learn about the prevalence of vector-borne diseases in your state by visiting the CDC’s website Vector-Borne Disease in the United States.

Like most health issues, early detection and treatment is vital. Discuss appearance of suspicious symptoms with your veterinarian as soon as possible, and make sure to tell him or her if you’ve removed a tick from your dog, even if it wasn’t very recently. A thorough history is important for your vet to make a diagnosis.

Also, please talk with your veterinarian about routine flea and tick prevention, and remember to check your pet for ticks after you visit marshy, wooded, or grassy areas.

For more information on this prevalent disease, please check out my article on Lyme Disease in Dogs for a thorough discussion of diagnosis, treatment, and Lyme vaccination options.

2. Ehrlichia

If you’ve never heard of Ehrlichia (pronounced ur-LICK-key-uh), you’re not alone. Ehrlichia is a less prevalent tick-borne illness in dogs, most commonly caused by a bacteria called Ehrlichia canis.

Named after Dr. Ehrlich who first reported the distinct bacteria, the brown dog tick and lone star tick (easily identified by a white dot on its back) spread the disease. Both tick species can serve as hosts to millions of the Erlichia organisms that must live in cells in order to survive.

Symptoms of Ehrlichia in dogs

While Ehrlichia and Lyme do have some common symptoms, there are some key differences that set these conditions apart clinically.

Signs of Ehrlichia in dogs include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • Bleeding issues/bruising
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Weight loss
  • Kidney disease in dogs

Ehrlichia in dogs often causes changes to their blood cells, particularly platelets. Platelets are responsible for clotting, so canine ehrlichiosis can cause abnormal bleeding or bruising. Sometimes we see nosebleeds or bloody urine. In addition to platelets, these dogs’ red and white blood cell counts also may be lower.

There are three stages of Ehrlichia presentation: Acute (dogs who are sick), subacute (no symptoms), and chronic (long-term symptoms).

3. Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is caused by a bacteria (Anaplasma phagocytophilum or Anaplasma platys) spread by the black-legged tick (deer tick), western black-legged tick, or brown dog tick.

Signs of Anaplasmosis in dogs

Regardless of which bacteria they are caused by, symptoms of Anaplasmosis in dogs include:

  • Lameness
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Respiratory difficulty

Some dogs with Anaplasmosis may also experience cyclic thrombocytopenia, where their platelets are intermittently lowered. The waxing and waning symptoms can make this disease difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms of a tick bite in dogs
Low platelets may be a symptom seen in dogs with different tick-borne diseases.

4. Babesia

Babesia is a tick-borne disease that infects the red blood cells. It can be transmitted by multiple species of ticks. It can also spread directly from dog-to-dog, particularly in the case of Babesia gibsoni, which is most common in Pit Bull Terriers. Unfortunately, there also have been case reports of dogs contracting Babesia transplacentally (from mother dog to pups in utero) and from blood transfusions.

Symptoms of Babesia in dogs

The typical symptoms associated with Babesia are:

  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Low platelet count
  • Red or brown urine

Read more  10 Ways to Celebrate Your Dog’s Birthday

Dogs who recover from Babesia are what we call “carriers” and may be infected for the rest of their lives—even without symptoms.

5. Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Despite its name, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is not limited to the Rocky Mountain range. Interestingly, RMSF is most prevalent in the southeastern and Gulf Coast states but present in every other state as well. 

Multiple species of ticks transmit RMSF. Unfortunately, unlike Lyme, RMSF can be transmitted within minutes of a tick bite.

Signs of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in dogs

In dogs, the symptoms of RMSF are similar to those of Ehrlichia and Babesia. They are:

  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Neurologic symptoms

6. Bartonella

Although this bacteria is more commonly associated with our feline friends (it is the bacteria that causes “cat scratch disease” in humans), canine bartonellosis is also a concern. Bartonella can be transmitted through ticks, fleas, lice, and sand flies.

Signs of canine bartonellosis

Symptoms of canine bartonellosis are non-specific. They can include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Joint pain
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea

Bartonellosis is considered a zoonotic disease, meaning it can pass directly from animals to people.

Symptoms of a tick bite in dogs
Fever, joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes can be signs of a tick-borne disease.

7. Hepatozoonosis

Canine hepatozoonosis is transmitted by a protozoan, which is a microscopic organism. Two species of protozoan can cause this disease in dogs: Hepatozoon canis and Hepatozoon americanum. Ticks (Gulf coast tick for H. canis and brown dog tick for H. americanum) acquire the protozoa from biting an infected dog, and a dog becomes infected by eating the tick.

Symptoms of hepatozoonosis

Dogs with hepatozoonosis may have waxing and waning illness. Signs of canine hepatozoonosis include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anemia
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

How to test for tick-borne diseases in dogs

Diagnostic testing for tick-borne diseases in dogs typically involves one or more type of blood tests.

Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma can be diagnosed with a point-of-care test that also includes a heartworm test. This test is relatively inexpensive and can be run as part of annual routine preventive care. Testing annually can catch sub-clinical infections in the early stages before signs of disease develop.

Routine bloodwork (complete blood count and serum chemistry) can show some nonspecific changes that may increase suspicion for some tick-borne diseases. Dogs may have decreased platelets, red blood cells, or white blood cells, and may also have increases in kidney and/or liver values. These findings don’t give a definitive diagnosis, but when combined with clinical signs may point in the right direction and guide further testing.

Some vector-borne diseases have specialized blood tests that can be sent out to a veterinary diagnostic lab for detection. These tests are typically slightly more expensive and take longer to get results, but are very accurate at detecting the disease.

A few conditions, notably babesia, may be diagnosed by looking at blood cells under a microscope. Sometimes these organisms are apparent, but sometimes they are more scarce and require review by a veterinary clinical pathologist to find them.

Long-term effects of tick-borne diseases in dogs

The range of long-term effects of these conditions corresponds to severity of the disease itself. Some dogs never get sick, and we wouldn’t even know they had the disease without testing for it. In my experience, this is usually the case with using the combination tests along with heartworm testing annually. Some of these dogs may never develop signs, and some may develop signs later.

Some dogs get more severe long-term illness from vector-borne diseases. Symptoms can include fever, neurologic issues (stumbling, ataxia), permanent or intermittent joint pain and swelling, bleeding disorders, and respiratory issues.

Any condition that causes long-term illness can impact the immune system, and tick-borne diseases are no exception. Dogs with any of these conditions can be more susceptible to other types of infections and have a harder time fighting them off.

The most common severe long-term illness I see is kidney damage. Although other conditions can affect the kidneys, I most associate it with Lyme disease. Lyme nephritis can be irreversible and potentially fatal. The kidneys don’t do a good job recovering from injury, so a lot of dogs who develop Lyme nephritis require lifelong management, if they make it through the initial illness.

Treating tick-borne diseases in dogs

Since a majority of these diseases are caused by bacteria, treatment usually involves a course of antibiotics. Doxycycline covers many tick-borne diseases. Generally treatment with antibiotics needs to be continued for several weeks or longer in order to fully clear the infection.

Symptoms of a tick bite in dogs
Doxycycline is a common antibiotic used to treat the bacteria commonly found in ticks.

Some diseases require different medications, or combinations of medications. If your dog is diagnosed with a tick-borne disease, your vet will prescribe the most appropriate therapy.

How to prevent tick-borne diseases in dogs

While tick-borne diseases are serious and can be fatal in dogs in some cases, you don’t have to stop enjoying the outdoors with your furry friend. By following these three steps, you can limit your dog’s exposure, and keep him or her healthy—and totally preoccupied with a frisbee, ball, or squirrel chasing.

1. Talk with your veterinarian about tick-borne disease prevention.

I am a huge proponent of flea and tick control medications. There are many effective products on the market, so ask your veterinarian what he or she recommends to determine the best choice for your dog.

Regardless of the medication you choose, prevention is a far less expensive option than treatment for tick-borne illness in dogs.

2. Check your dog for ticks.

A tick, lurking on a blade of grass, can sense your dog’s presence. So how does a tick know there’s a delicious meal passing by?

Ticks and other insects like mosquitoes are living carbon dioxide detectors. Once CO2 is detected, ticks capitalize on opportunity. They “reach out” and snag the nearby host with their front legs. Then they use the hook-shaped tip of these legs to hang on, climb up, and dig in.

That’s why it’s so important to be diligent in checking your dog for ticks after exposure to high-risk environments. Remember, in many cases, removal of the tick before the 24-hour mark may prevent transmission of the disease.

The CDC recommends looking for ticks in the following areas:

  • In and around the ears
  • Around the eyelids
  • Under the collar
  • Under the front legs
  • Between the back legs
  • Between the toes
  • Around the tail

If you find a tick, there is a right (and wrong) way to remove it. Ticks have a structure on the front of their head called a hypostome. A hypostome is like a harpoon near the tick’s mouth. It allows the tick to dig into the host’s tissue for feeding.

Symptoms of a tick bite in dogs
If you are unsure that you can remove the tick in its entirety, call your Veterinarian for help.

This is part of the reason why it’s so challenging to remove ticks. They attach like a fish hook lodged in your hand. It’s so difficult to get out because of the barbing. Likewise, the barbed hypostome embeds right into the skin.

As if that weren’t bad enough, ticks also secrete a substance called cementum from the tip of the hypostome. Cementum, as its name implies, acts like a glue to further attach the tick to the dog.

Gentle removal is key. Make sure you remove the entire tick—if part is left in your dog’s skin it may become infected. If you are unsure how to safely and effectively remove a tick, ask your vet for guidance.

3. Know the symptoms of tick-borne diseases in dogs.

Knowing the different forms of tick diseases in dogs puts you at a tremendous advantage. Because you’re reading this article, you’re off to a great start. Early detection, early diagnosis, and early treatment almost always means a better outcome for your loyal companion.

Enjoy the outdoors with one eye on the risks

Finally, don’t give up your dog’s favorite pastime just because uncertainty lingers outside your door. Keep one eye on the risks and both eyes on your beloved dog. You can both have a better time enjoying the outdoors equipped with your knowledge on how you can prevent tick-borne diseases and keep your dog safe.

What is your dog’s favorite outdoor activity?

Share in the comments below. We’d love to hear!


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About the Author: Tung Chi