We’re in tick season in Minnesota and Wisconsin now, and it’s a long season… this year, clients started to tell us about ticks on their dogs in February, and we expect to be hearing the same stories up until December. Wood ticks and deer ticks differ in size, and a bit in appearance (who’s looking that closely?!), but both species can transmit disease to your dog, even if your dog spends minimal time outside. Because of their grooming habits, it is unusual for cats to have problems with ticks.
Prevention is best with tick-borne diseases. Your dog should be vaccinated for Lyme’s disease yearly, and Frontline Plus should be used to prevent ticks from attaching long enough to transmit bacteria. Most tick diseases require the tick to be attached and feeding for at least 24-48 hours. If your dog is protected with Frontline Plus, ticks will die within a few hours of attaching to the skin. Frontline should be continued into November, as ticks will be active during these months.
All of the diseases we list here have been diagnosed in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and all have been seen by our practice.
- Lyme’s disease: caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, and transmitted through deer ticks. Symptoms include recurrent lameness, decreased appetite and energy, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, the kidney can be involved and symptoms will progress very fast.
- Ehrlichiosis: caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia canis. Symptoms include decreased appetite, decreased energy, and fever. Severe cases of the disease can decrease platelet function in the blood and could lead to bleeding disorders.
- Anaplasmosis: caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Symptoms include decreased appetite, decreased energy, fever, and painful swollen joints. Some animals develop vomiting and diarrhea.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: caused by the organism Rickettsia rickettsii. Symptoms include decreased appetite, decreased energy, fever, painful muscles and joints, swollen lymph nodes, vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs develop severe signs such as heart arrhythmias, bleeding disorders and neurological signs (dizziness, seizures).
Many of the symptoms of tick borne diseases are similar, and can be vague and difficult to distinguish. If your pet is showing any of the symptoms listed, give us a call. We can test for exposure, and for infection.
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