Are Ticks Dangerous For Dogs?

Dog hiking used for an article by PawPurity called Are Ticks on Dogs

Dogs are susceptible to tick bites. The effects of those bites can be extremely dangerous. Ticks carry a variety of diseases, some of which are deadly to dogs. Therefore, it is important for dog owners to be aware of the dangers that ticks pose to their pets and take steps to protect them from these dangerous critters. In this blog post, we will discuss the risks that ticks pose to dogs and outline steps that dog owners can take to protect their pets from these parasites.

What are Ticks? What do They Look Like?

Ticks are small, parasitic arachnids related to spiders and scorpions. They feed on blood from humans and animals and can cause various illnesses in their hosts. It's important to know what ticks look like so you can recognize them if they attach themselves to you or your pets.

The first step is identifying an adult tick; they have eight legs with a flat body measuring between 2mm-5mm in length when unfed. The most common type of tick found attacking animals is the brown dog tick, which has a reddish-brown body with yellow or white markings along its back. In addition, some species may also have spotted patterns on their backs. Ticks will become swollen after a meal, making them easier to spot.

A brown dog tick crawls over a stone. The image is used in a blog on PawPurity called "Are Ticks Dangerous for Dogs."
Brown Dog Tick

Ticks & Dogs

Other than brown dog ticks, American dog ticks, deer or black-legged ticks, and Lone Star ticks also are common treats.

  • Brown dog tick infestations are generally limited to indoor animals as they prefer warm environments and do not survive long outdoors in cold climates. 
  • American dog tick populations can be found in various parts of the U.S., primarily in grassy and wooded areas. 
  • Deer or black-legged ticks inhabit heavily forested regions along with moist meadows and low shrubby areas. 
  • While Lone Star Ticks are found in open woods and tall grasses throughout the southeastern United States.

Diseases Carried by Ticks to Dogs

 In dogs, ticks can attach to any body part but are often most commonly found on the head, neck, and ears. Ticks can transmit several diseases to dogs, including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichiosis. 

  1. Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, and joint pain. Lyme disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness caused by the bite of an infected tick in dogs. Although there is no vaccine for Lyme disease, it can be prevented with proper tick control measures such as flea and tick collars or topical treatments. 

According to Cornell University and College of Veterinary Medicine, Lyme Disease can be of many forms. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to ward off long-term complications, including joint problems, heart abnormalities, and kidney damage. The bacteria that cause Lyme disease are transmitted by black-legged or deer ticks; when these parasites feed on your pet's blood, they can spread Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria into its bloodstream. Dogs that have been infected may present clinical signs such as fever, lethargy, lameness, and swollen lymph nodes. A veterinarian should be consulted at the first sign of these symptoms so that a diagnosis can be made quickly and appropriate treatment can be started immediately. So you can see, when pet owners ask, are ticks dangerous for dogs, the answer is yes, very dangerous.

  1. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever 

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a potentially fatal disease caused by a tick bite in dogs. It is an infection caused by the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii, which is found primarily in wooded and grassy areas of North America. To avoid potential contact with infected ticks, it's important to know the signs and symptoms of RMSF in dogs so pet owners can act quickly if their pet becomes ill.

According to the Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital report, signs of infection usually appear within two to fourteen days after a tick bite. They include fever, loss of appetite, joint pain, lethargy, vomiting, and coughing. Dogs may also experience abdominal discomfort or tenderness along with neurological signs such as seizures or disorientation. If left untreated, RMSF can lead to serious health complications, including organ failure and even death due to severe bleeding disorders.

  1. Ehrlichiosis 

Ehrlichiosis is an infectious disease caused by the E. canis bacteria, transmitted through tick bites. This serious canine illness, also known as canine ehrlichiosis or dog tick fever, affects dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes. 

Symptoms of ehrlichiosis can be vague and may include appetite loss, joint pain or stiffness, depression or lethargy, weight loss, and eye inflammation. In some cases, bleedings in the intestines or lungs might occur; these are usually life-threatening if left untreated. Diagnosis is typically done via blood tests that measure antibodies produced by a dog’s immune system against the Ehrlichia bacteria. 

If diagnosed early enough with canine ehrlichiosis, treatment can be successful with antibiotics such as doxycycline over several weeks, depending on the severity of symptoms.

How to Protect Your Dog From Tick Bites and Disease Transmission

Ticks are a common nuisance for pet owners and can transmit a variety of diseases to both humans and animals. To protect your dog from tick bites and reduce the risk of disease transmission, you can take several proactive steps. 

  1. First and foremost, it is important to use preventative medications on your dog. This may include topical treatments or oral medications to help repel ticks throughout the year. 
  2. Additionally, these products often contain insect growth regulators, which work by preventing any larvae or eggs from maturing into adults, which are capable of feeding on your pet.  
  3. It is also vital to check your dog’s coat regularly for any signs of parasites and inspect them after time spent outdoors in wooded areas or areas with tall grasses where ticks tend to congregate.
  4. Always use a non-toxic flea and tick shampoo for your pets. PawPurity flea and tick prevention shampoo & spray package are organic, hypoallergenic, effective and easy to use. They can play a vital role in keeping your pets safe from ticks.

Long-Term Health Risks Associated with Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs 

Dogs suffering from tick-borne diseases often experience fever, joint inflammation or lameness, fatigue, and loss of appetite. In some cases, these symptoms can lead to serious long-term health problems such as heart failure or neurological damage if the infection is not treated promptly.

Tick-borne diseases are often difficult to detect because they may not show symptoms for weeks or even months after a tick bite. This makes early detection and treatment essential to protecting your dog's health if you suspect that your dog has been exposed to ticks.

Takeaway

Still wondering "are ticks dangerous for dogs?" The answer in a definite yes. The key is prevention. However, if ticks do attach themselves to your dog's body, they are easy to remove. If you find a tick on your dog, remove it as soon as possible and monitor the area for any signs of infection. If you see anything that causes concern, take your dog to your veterinarian immediately. Remember, ticks are equally as dangerous to humans, so if you go hiking into tick-heavy areas, be sure to protect your legs and ankles.

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