Many pet owners believe that ticks only live in highly vegetated areas such as woods or bushy areas. However, it is a myth that ticks cannot dwell in grass or in a common backyard. This myth as well as others makes it difficult to protect pets from tick-borne illnesses. As a pet owner, it is important to make informed decisions about your pet’s health. Dogs are especially susceptible to ticks, as they love to scour areas where ticks typically live, and they just love to play outdoors. Therefore, it is critical to take steps to protect your dog from ticks and the illnesses they can spread. In this article, we’ll discuss tick-borne illnesses that dogs are susceptible to and some different, effective ideas for how to ensure your dog is protected when outdoors.
How Do Tick-Borne Illnesses Spread?
It is first important to understand how tick-borne illnesses and diseases spread to both pets and humans alike. Ticks are dangerous, such that they are small and can be somewhat difficult to detect – especially if your dog has a thick coat. Not all ticks carry diseases; however, it is important to remain cautious.
Ticks attach to their host and if they are infected, the disease spreads to the host. Contrary to popular belief, ticks do not “jump” onto their host, but rather rub off from grass or brush that the animal or human comes into contact with. They feed on the hosts blood and can spread harmful, or even deadly diseases.
Types of Tick-Borne Diseases
There are several types of tick-borne diseases that predominantly affect dogs, and since migratory patterns of animal hosts have changed in recent years, they aren’t all necessarily isolated by region anymore. Therefore, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the range of diseases your dog could be exposed to by ticks:
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Lyme Disease
We will go over a few of the most common types of tick-borne diseases seen in regions near Simi Valley. If you are concerned about your pet’s health it is best to consult with your trusted veterinarian immediately.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
This tick-borne disease is found in various areas of the Americas and poses a serious danger to animals and humans alike. Most commonly spread by the Brown Deer Tick, as well as a few other types of ticks, this is a harmful and wide-spreading disease.
Another common tick-borne disease, this can also be spread by a number of different types of ticks. This is an often-treatable disease if caught early, but can cause different lingering symptoms in your dog if not treated quickly.
Perhaps the most widely-known tick-borne disease, Lyme disease is debilitating and can cause severe symptoms in dogs and humans. Though different treatment options exist, it is essential to attempt to prevent this tick-borne illness in your dog.
Signs of Tick-Borne Diseases
There are a number of different signs and symptoms your dog might exhibit if exposed to a tick-borne disease. Though they tend to vary depending on the type of tick-borne disease, these are the most common signs you should look for:
- Joint swelling or pain
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Bleeding nose
- Reduced appetite
- Anemia or other blood-related abnormalities
How to Prevent and Screen for Tick-Borne Disease
Many tick-borne diseases present with similar symptoms; therefore, it is critical to bring your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis for routine checkups and blood work. Many tick-borne diseases aren’t noticed until blood is analyzed, and some diseases are treatable if caught early-on; so, it is best to stay on top of your pet’s health. Here are a few tips for how to prevent tick-borne diseases:
- Monitor your pet’s behavior – look for any signs of changing energy or appetite levels
- Check their coat for ticks after going to dog parks or visiting unfamiliar, lush areas
- Use tick-preventive medicines regularly
- Bring your dog to the veterinarian for routine check-ups and blood work
- If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior, bring them to the vet immediately
How We Can Help
Here at Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency, we know that preventing tick-borne illness is possible, given the right information and tools. If you live in Simi Valley, California, or the greater Ventura County area and would like to learn other strategies for preventing tick-borne diseases in your dog, please contact us directly to schedule a check-up appointment for your pet. We are here to help keep your pet healthy for their lifetime.