6 Pet Conditions Caused by Ticks
Ticks are not just a nuisance; they can also have a bad effect on your pet’s health. This can be anything from itchiness to more serious problems such as a tick-borne disease. In fact, there are 6 common health conditions in pets caused by ticks.
Haemobartonellosis is a disease affecting dogs and cats caused by haemobartonella, a microscopic parasite that spreads through flea and tick bites. Once introduced to its host, the organism attaches to RBCs in the body, causing anemia and lethargy in the pet. Although dogs can also be affected by the condition, cats are more commonly diagnosed with Feline Infectious Anemia (haemobartonellosis in cats).
Haemobartonellosis is typically treated with antibiotic therapy, but a blood transfusion may also be necessary depending on the severity of the anemia.
2. RMSF (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever)
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is more prevalent in dogs, but cats can also become infected with the disease. RMSF is spread by two types of ticks: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and American Dog. It is caused by Rickettsia rickettsii, a tiny organism that takes over endothelial cells in the body. In order for RMSF to develop in pets, an infected tick feeds on the pet for a minimum of 5 hours.
Symptoms of the disease include; fever, lethargy, painful joints, decreased appetite, unusual bruising, and vomiting. More serious complications can also develop such as; seizures, renal failure, and heart problems. Treatment options for RMSF include antibiotics and supportive care.
Ehrlichiosis is similar to RMSF in the way that it too is caused by a type of rickettsia microorganism. The disease is also only spread by two tick species: Brown Dog and Lone Star. Signs of Ehrlichiosis usually appear within 4 weeks of the pet becoming infected. Some of the symptoms include; lethargy, loss of appetite, joint pain, fever, and bruises. Approximately 2 months of antibiotic therapy is necessary to treat Ehrlichiosis infection in dogs and cats. Although there is currently no vaccine for the disease, some vets recommend a minimum dose of antibiotics for high risk seasons as a form of prevention.
4. Lyme Borreliosis
Lyme borreliosis, or Lyme disease, is a bacterial disease transmitted by Deer ticks after 2 days of feeding. Pets infected with the disease don’t develop a “butterfly” rash like humans do, but other symptoms may be present such as; joint inflammation, decreased appetite, lethargy, fever, and inflamed lymph nodes. In severe cases, complications such as cardiovascular problems and renal disease can also occur.
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics and there is a vaccine for canines available that can help prevent the disease.
5. Tick Paralysis
Tick paralysis is a health condition which occurs when ticks release a toxin into the pet’s bloodstream. Dogs seem to be the most affected by the condition, usually developing symptoms such as; trouble walking, leg weakness, respiratory problems, and trouble swallowing.
In most cases, removal of the tick leads to a quick recovery. However, additional treatment and supportive care may be necessary. There is also an antitoxin available that can be used if a quick diagnosis is made. If not treated promptly, the disease can cause complete paralysis and even be deadly.
Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by protozoa, microscopic organisms that invade red blood cells. Like with Feline Infectious Anemia, Babesiosis can also lead to anemia in pets. It is a serious disease, causing severe symptoms such as; fever, inflamed lymph nodes, pale mucous membranes, abnormal urine color, and shock. Antibiotics and a blood transfusion may be necessary for critical cases.