The Dangers of Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs

Ticks are not only a nuisance; they can also transmit diseases that can cause long-term problems for dogs and their owners.

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne illness and can be fatal. It causes a variety of symptoms that may not appear immediately following a tick bite.

The Dangers of Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs

Lyme Disease

Ticks live in wooded and grassy areas, waiting to latch onto animals and humans when they pass by. They may attach to a host for as little as 1 day, transferring the Lyme bacteria that cause the disease.

Tick-borne diseases can be prevented by protecting your pet with good flea and tick-prevention products. Thoroughly inspecting your dog’s coat daily and physically removing any attached ticks are also important.

In the United States, the deer tick is the primary Lyme disease carrier. However, it is not uncommon for other species of ticks–such as lone star ticks, the wood tick, and deer flies–to carry the infection.

The most common symptoms of Lyme disease are fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that looks like a bull’s eye or is round and red and at least 2 inches long. In addition, flu-like symptoms such as a headache or fatigue may be present.


Anaplasmosis is a disease transmitted to dogs via the bite of an infected tick. The disease is most commonly caused by the bacterial infection Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is transmitted by the black-legged tick (deer tick) and the brown dog tick.

Symptoms typically begin within a week or two of being bitten by an infected tick. Affected dogs may become lethargic, have a poor appetite, have muscle tenderness or difficulty moving, and develop enlarged lymph nodes.

Infected dogs can also experience a chronic kind of anaplasmosis that lasts for months at a time. This form of the disease is less common but can still cause GI problems, respiratory symptoms, and even signs of meningitis.


Ticks are the main way that your dog can become infected with Ehrlichia. Any dog that spends time outdoors, especially in areas with lots of tick populations, has a risk of contracting this disease.

A bite from an infected tick usually causes infection with this bacterium. It can be a serious problem for both dogs and humans.

The first step in diagnosis is a blood test to see if antibodies are present. The antibodies can be detectable with an ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) or a DNA/PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.

Your vet may also recommend a baseline blood chemistry and cell count. They will look for abnormalities such as low platelets, low red blood cells, or high globulin protein levels.

In some cases, your pet may not show any symptoms of the infection until several months after the initial bite. If this is the case, your vet will recommend that you take your dog in for a follow-up blood test. Also Read – 10 Common Dog Health Problems And How To Solve Them

Heartworm Disease

Heartworm Disease is a potentially deadly infection in dogs. It can cause various problems, from lung damage to scarring of the arteries that feed the heart and lungs.

When a dog is infected with heartworm disease, adult female heartworms release tiny microfilariae into the dog’s bloodstream. These microfilariae need to pass through a mosquito to mature into infective larvae.

The infective larvae grow into adult worms and then enter the dog’s heart, where they begin to multiply. When the heartworms have reached a certain number, they clog the blood vessels leading to the heart and lungs.

The damage caused by heartworms is irreversible and can progress to congestive heart failure. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the number of worms present and how long they have been in the dog’s body.