Bruno’s Dog Blog Issue XXXVII – “Ticks and Lyme Disease Oh My!”

 

Ticks are becoming increasingly more common parasites that can be found anywhere, from the deep woods to urban parks, or even along the sidewalk, bike path, or in your own backyard!  Each year, thousands of dogs become infected with serious diseases transmitted by a number of different ticks. Illnesses spread by ticks are known as vector-borne or tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and others.  The risks they pose to your dog can be minimized with preventive measures (oral or topical medications, tick collars, etc.) and annual checkups with your veterinarian that include tick-borne disease screening, such as the Accuplex Heartworm Plus test offered at Sheridan Animal Hospital. This is especially important, as symptoms of tick-borne disease are often vague, non-specific, and difficult to recognize, causing many pet owners to not even know their dog is suffering from a debilitating tick disease until it is too late.

Fortunately, the friendly and knowledgeable staff at Sheridan Animal Hospital is here to help ensure that your pet stays protected and disease-free!  Stick with me and I’ll share some helpful tips and information about tick-borne disease and how to keep your dog safe. When you know more about the risks, you can help keep your best friend happy, healthy and tick-free, like me!

Throughout the United States and Canada, there are a number of disease-carrying ticks that can spread serious illness to your pet.  Some ticks are known to carry more than one disease, which can lead to multiple infections, or co-infection, that can complicate treatment and lead to greater health risks for your pet.  The most common ticks in our area are the Deer Tick, the Brown Dog Tick, and the American Dog Tick.  While typically, the Lone Star Tick, the Gulf Coat Tick, and the Western Black Legged Tick are more common in other areas of the country, with the growth of white-tailed deer and wild turkey populations, tick populations and geographic distribution of ticks have expanded, and we may be seeing these populations in our area as well.

 

In addition to Lyme disease, ticks also carry ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and others. There is simply no way for you to tell if a tick is carrying disease or not, and it only takes one tick bite to infect your dog with a potentially life-threatening disease.  Symptoms of tick-borne diseases are often vague, non-specific, and difficult to recognize.  “Humans and other non-canine family members can also become infected with the same tick-borne diseases as dogs. These cross-species diseases are known as zoonotic. So, if you live in an area with ticks or if you’ve ever found a tick on your dog, you should also be sure to check yourself and your family.”[1]

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) reportsover 268,000 positive Lyme disease cases in dogs in the United States in 2016, with over 34,000 of those cases coming from New York State.[2]  This number continues to rise each year.  In Erie County alone, the number or Lyme disease cases has doubled over the past 5 years.  The increasing prevalence of Lyme disease is a concern for dogs and humans alike. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) note Lyme disease as the most commonly reported vector-borne disease in the United States.[3]

 

Facts about Lyme disease:

  • Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Ticks carry this bacterium and can facilitate its spread to dogs, humans and other species
  • Common clinical signs of the disease include fever, lethargy swollen joints, lameness, and decreased appetite

[1]Dogs and Ticks http://www.dogsandticks.com/diseases_and_symptoms/ Accessed on 5/21/17

[2] Companion Animal Parasite Council Prevalence Maps https://www.capcvet.org/maps/#2016/all/lyme-disease/dog/united-states/ Accessed on 5/21/17

[3]  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Lyme Disease Fast Facts https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/ Accessed on 5/21/17

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