Medical Monday: Tick Borne Diseases


Welcome to another edition of Medical Monday where we discuss veterinary medical issues experienced by pets and their families.

Today I want to discuss Tick Borne Diseases.

I was recently contacted by Vicki from Earth Heart Inc., (a company that provides natural remedies for pet) to join in the effort of educating pet parents about tick borne diseases.

You may remember earlier this year I wrote about a family who suddenly lost their lab Buddy, to Lyme Disease. Tick borne diseases are very serious and can be fatal to your pet.


Cause: Dogs bitten by ticks that are infected with certain types of ehrlichia bacteria (PetMD). The bacterial causes the immune system to attack the platelets in the dogs body. Destruction of platelets, makes it impossible for the body to form blood clots.

Symptoms (PetMD): Fever, lethargy, lymph node enlargement, lameness, abnormal bruising and bleeding, chronic eye inflammation, neurologic abnormalities

Treatment: Diagnosis of this type of disease is very difficult! Both false positives and false negatives are very common. Once diagnosis has been confirmed, the treatment of choice may be antibiotics, more severe cases may need blood transfusions or immunosuppressive medications. Most importantly: signs can show up long after exposure, so no recent tick exposure will not rule out this disease (PetMD).

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri


According to PetMD, there are 2 forms of Anaplasmosis, the first is caused by Deer Ticks and Western Black-legged ticks, and then there is another that is caused by the Brown Dog Tick (PetMD).

Symptoms: pain in the joints, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and some nervous system disorders (PetMD).

Diagnosis: Usually, pets will start to display symptoms a few weeks after infection. Diagnosis of anaplasmosis requires blood and urine tests to confirm infection (PetMD).

Treatment: Oral antibiotics may be an option for your pet, but it depends on how severe the infection is (PetMD).

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Cats can be infected with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, but the incidence is much lower. Dogs however are highly susceptible to infection (PetMD).

Symptoms: fever, loss of appetite, enlargement of the lymph nodes, coughing or difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and swelling of the joints (Merck/Merial). In severe cases, you may see red spots on the lining of the mouth and eyelids.

Treatment: If this disease is suspected, your veterinarian will often not wait for results, but will immediately start antibiotic treatment (Merck/Merial).

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri

Photo Courtesy of the University of Missouri


Lyme Disease

Lyme disease has been reported in every state in the United States. There are 3 known species of tick that can transmit Lyme disease. However, the most common cases of lyme are cause by Black-Legged Deer ticks. These ticks harbor that bacteria that cause the lyme disease. The highest risk times for this disease are spring and fall. The disease is actually named after the town Lyme, Connecticut where the earliest outbreak was first seen (Merck/Merial).

Symptoms: The most common symptoms include fever, inappetence, pain and swelling in the joints, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy (Merck/Merial).

Treatment: includes antibiotics, although it is not helpful in all cases pending the severity of the infection (Merck/Merial).


What can you do as a pet owner?

Avoid tick exposure.

Vaccination for Lyme Disease may be an option, so check with your veterinarian.

Have a plan in place to repel ticks from your pet when you hike, camp, etc.


Remove ticks as soon as you see them!

14868449429_2c64b9bb39_o In addition to spreading the word about tick borne diseases, Earth Heart is letting us giveaway a bottle of they Buzz Guard to 2 lucky readers. To learn more about Buzz Guard, please visit their website here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I want to thank Earth Heart for helping us spread the word about tick borne diseases.

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