It's important to talk to your veterinarian about tick prevention methods and to have your pet tested annually for tick-borne diseases. Early treatment could save your dog's life and prevent you from becoming ill.
Ticks and Disease
Ticks are parasites that attach by their mouth parts to animals and humans. They can spread Zoonotic illnesses (diseases that can spread from animals to humans and can make both sick) and cause anemia and skin irritation. Some of these tick-borne diseases are:
Anaplasmosis phagocytophilum is transmitted by black-legged (deer) or western black-legged ticks, which are common in the northern states, and since these also transmit Lyme disease, you and your pets could be at risk for co-infection of both diseases. If your dog becomes infected with this, they may experience lethargy, loss of appetite, neurologic signs, neck pain, and lameness.
Anaplasmas platys, a similar organism, is transmitted by brown dog ticks common to the southern US, and can cause your dog to have nosebleeds and bruising on their belly and gums.
Bourbon Virus is thought to be carried by ticks, but researchers are still trying to find out which ones carry it. This illness can cause high fever, headaches, muscle and joint pain, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea in humans. It can also cause a rash, blood cell changes, respiratory issues, and organ failure that will lead to death. Until a farmer living in Kansas became ill and died from it, it was thought that people do not contract this virus. This illness is a type of thogotovirus which is spread by ticks and can infect mammals.
Canine ehrlichiois has several different forms endemic to different regions. This form of the disease primarily affects dogs, not humans. It infects white blood cells and can eventually disturb bone marrow function. Its symptoms can cause similar problems as Lyme disease and Anaplamas, along with runny eyes and nose discharge and spontaneous or shifting lameness. The brown dog tick found in the south may transmit ehrlichia canis.
Lyme disease is transmitted by black-legged (deer) ticks which are commonly found in the mid-atlantic, north-eastern or north-central states but can be found in throughout the US and Canada. Months after the original contact, your pet may exhibit periods of lameness, loss of appetite, and malaise. Humans sometimes get a bull's eye rash at a tick bite site, but this is not evident with dogs.
As you can see, all these diseases cause similar problems. If you begin experiencing any of the symptoms listed, you should consult a physician to determine if you have contracted one of these or something similar.
The same medicines that prevent flea infestation will also prevent ticks from adhering to your dog. There are oral flea and tick preventative medicines available that can be given once monthly from your veterinarian.
If you find a tick attached to your dog's skin, spray it with pyrethrin. It will fall off after it dies. If you decide to remove it, be sure to put on some gloves. Use tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the head a possible and steadily pull it out and up. Then clean the area and apply an antibiotic cream.
Before letting your dog outdoors you may want to use pyrethrin spray or powder on them to discourage ticks and fleas from attaching to your pet. You should also treat your yard monthly with a spray you can purchase at a lawn care or farm supply store. Some people claim that sprinkling diatomaceous earth works as well and is more natural. It is found at pool supply or farm stores. For more information, contact a business such as St Francis Animal Clinic PA.