What is Tick-Borne Disease?

FBDCA Tick TalkTick-borne disease occurs when ticks infected with a pathogen bite a dog and transmit the pathogen into the dog’s body. Many of these pathogens are zoonotic, meaning they can also infect humans. Disease is not spread between dogs and humans directly because these pathogens must complete their lifecycle phase within the tick to become infectious. So, while humans and other non-canine family members can also become infected, a direct tick bite is required to transmit disease.

The most common tick-borne diseases:

  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Hepatozoonosis
  • Babesiosis
  • Lyme disease

The feeding time required to allow disease transmission from a tick to a dog or person varies between ticks and disease agents. Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever-causing bacteria can be transmitted within 3-6 hours of tick attachment, while Lyme Disease-causing bacterial transmission can require 24-48 hours of feeding before a host is infected.

10 Fast Facts

  • 6 major tick-borne diseases can affect dogs.
  • Tick-borne disease is found in all 50 states.
  • Specific diseases have regional prevalence.
  • Climate / weather patterns cause changes in prevalence of ticks.
  • Ticks are active 12 months a year.
  • 7 of 8 major tick species are known to carry infectious diseases that affect dogs.
  • Depression, lack of appetite, lack of energy, shifting leg lameness, fever, inflammation, spontaneous bruising are the most common symptoms.
  • Antibiotics, supportive care, and sometimes blood transfusion are the treatment options.
  • Some disease-carrying ticks can transmit disease in as little as 3 – 6 hours; some take 24 – 48 hours. The sooner a tick is removed, the less likely the dog will contract disease.
  • After your dog has been outside, thoroughly check him for ticks and remove them promptly.

Testing & Treatment

If your dog exhibits any behaviors out of the ordinary, visit your veterinarian. Testing for tick-borne disease is fast, effective, and saves money on medical care in the long run. Tick-borne disease can be treated effectively if caught early.

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This article was written by the AKC Canine Health Foundation, and posted on its website.