Skip to Main Content

Healthy Pet Care Tips

About Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs

For dogs across the US tick borne diseases are a very real and serious health concern. Symptoms of these diseases can be painful and drain the energy right out of your pup. Below our PetVet Care Centers member vets share more about how tick borne illness could affect your dog.

Ticks & Your Dog's Health

The health of people and pets across the US is at serious risk from a host of tick-borne diseases. These illnesses impact thousands of dogs throughout North America every year and are capable of producing some very serious symptoms. In some cases, tick-borne diseases can even be life-threatening or fatal. 

Not only that, multiple organisms can be transmitted to your dog through a single bite of an infected tick, allowing different organisms to work together to release toxins and trigger your pet’s immune system. These organisms can invade your dog's cells and hijack their immune system often leading to recurring or chronic infections.

Below are some of the most common tick borne illnesses in dogs.

Tick Borne Illnesses Seen in Dogs

Lyme Disease

  • Lyme disease is a condition seen in dogs and people caused by the borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. This bacteria can be transmitted to dogs by infected black-legged ticks or deer ticks. In dogs the symptoms of Lyme disease can include lameness, fever, joint pain or swelling, enlargement of lymph nodes, and lethargy. Lyme disease in dogs can be successfully treated, however in people Lyme can be much more serious.

Canine Bartonellosis

  • Canine Bartonellosis is less common than some other tick-borne diseases seen in dogs however it's worth noting because the symptoms of this disease can be very serious. Symptoms of Bartonellosis include intermittent fever and lameness in the early stages, but if the condition is left untreated it can lead to liver or heart disease. People are also susceptible to this tick borne disease.

Rickettsial Diseases

Tiny intracellular bacteria called Rickettsial organisms are also transmitted by ticks. Rickettsial are responsible for a range of conditions in both dogs and people. These conditions can be particularly challenging to diagnose. Multiple tests or rounds of treatment may be needed before a definitive cause for your dog's symptoms can be determined.

Below are some of the most common Rickettsial diseases seen in dogs.

Canine Anaplasmosis (Dog Tick Fever)

  • The most common symptoms of Anaplasmosis in dogs are stiff joints, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases this tick borne disease can also lead to seizures.

Canine Ehrlichiosis

  • Symptoms of Canine Ehrlichiosis generally start to appear between 1-3  weeks after your dog has been infected. Symptoms of this condition that pet parents should watch for include fever, reduced appetite, bruising and nose bleeds. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing chronic symptoms of Ehrlichiosis in dogs.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a tick-borne condition that can be seen in dogs across Central, South, and North America. Joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, decreased appetite and fever are some of the most common symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs. Some dogs suffering from this condition also experience neurological symptoms such as balance issues or weakness.

Protozoal Diseases

Protozoal diseases originate from a tick borne protozoal intracellular parasite which can thrive in your dog’s red blood cells. Some of the most common tick-borne protozoal diseases seen in US dogs include Canine Babesiosis and Hepatozoonosis.

Canine Babesiosis

  • Canine Babesiosis is primarily spread through the bite of an infected tick however, this condition can also be spread through the bite of an infected dog, contaminated IV blood or transferred to unborn puppies from a pregnant mother through transplacental transmission. This tick borne illness causes the break down of your dog's red blood cells, resulting in symptoms such as jaundice, pale gums, lethargy, dark-colored urine, and in some cases vomiting and weakness.

Canine Hepatozoonosis

  • As well as being a tick-borne disease, your dog could contract Canine Hepatozoonosis by consuming another infected animal such as a bird or rodent. Many infected dogs show no symptoms of this disease, whereas others suffer painful symptoms which can seriously impact their mobility such as muscle, bone, and/or joint pain. Other symptoms of Canine Hepatozoonosis include fever, pale gums and skin, and enlarged lymph nodes.

Treatment for Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs

Dogs with tick borne diseases are typically treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics. Probiotics may also be recommended while your dog is on antibiotic treatment to help prevent gastrointestinal issues. Recurring tick borne conditions can be particularly challenging to beat. Even after your pup appears to have recovered, regular blood work may be recommended to help detect recurrences early so that treatment can prevent the condition from becoming more serious.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of a tick borne illness contact your vet, or a PetVet Care Center near you to book an appointment for your pet today. 

Find a Vet Near You

Our veterinary teams understand how precious your pet is to you. We offer the quality of care you expect for your furry friends.

Find a Hospital

Practice OwnersCareers