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TICK DISEASES - by Lexy Marcellus, (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 02 June 2012 12:14

TICKS are starting to venture into Ontario.  Some of them carry diseases that are harmful to our pets.  The most common ones are: Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis.

Lyme disease: Caused by a bacterium borrelia burgdoferi, it's transmitted to dogs and humans through a tick bite.  Once in the blood stream, the Lyme disease organism is carried to many parts of the body, and is likely to localize in joints.  It's transmitted most commonly by deer ticks.

Initial clinical signs are: fever, lethargy, decreased appetite & lameness. Lameness tends to shift from leg to leg, over several weeks.  Joint swelling and enlarged lymph nodes may occur.  Multiple joints may be affected, and inflammation of the eyes (uveitis) may develop. If untreated, it may eventually disappear, only to recur weeks or months later.

Routine laboratory (blood & urine) tests, abdominal and joint x-rays, and an abdominal ultrasound may recommend investigating the source of these signs. Further blood testing for the antibodies & proteins of the bacteria will need to be run to confirm Lyme disease.

Treatment is recommended, and can be controlled by a lengthy course of antibiotics to eradicate the bacterium.  It is possible to be re-infected by Lyme disease, but using preventative medicine and looking over your dog for possible ticks, will help reduce this likeliness. 

Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis: These are systemic diseases caused by rickettsial bacterial, also transmitted by tick bites. The Brown Dog Tick is most notably the main source for these diseases.

Some animals may be infected, but show no clinical signs.  In others, signs may develop over time, or show themselves right away.  Symptoms can include: fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and possible weight loss.  Enlarged lymph nodes & spleen, as well as areas of bruising or bleeding under the skin, in the mouth or nose.  Inflammation and hemorrhage within the eye - retinal detachment, vision abnormalities, joint and muscle pain, swelling and lameness are also possibilities.  Central nervous system signs such as seizures, neck pain, uncoordinated movement, head tilt & falling may also occur.

Similar to Lyme Disease, testing is recommended - as well as looking for antibodies or proteins in the blood from the bacteria.  Ehrlichoisis and Anaplasmosis can be treated, with a long course of antibiotics and pain medications to keep the dog comfortable and eradicate the bacteria.

The most important thing to consider?  Regular testing - which most Vet Clinics recommend in addition to Heartworm testing.  A small amount of blood can make a big difference. Planning on hiking with your dog in wooded areas?  Talk to your Veterinarian team to find out which Preventative medications and testing, would most benefit your dog’s active lifestyle!  Then get out there...and Enjoy! cool Lexy


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