Tick-Borne Diseases & Your Dog

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

It’s that time of year again…..TICK TIME!  The creepy crawlies are emerging and looking for their next meal.  However, their next meal could be you or your pet, and their gift to you could be a serious disease.


When we talked about Heartworm Disease, we touched briefly on tick-borne illnesses, which Suburban Animal Clinic includes with the annual heartworm blood test.  Tick-borne diseases are more prevalent than you may think, especially for Franklin County.


A quick review of the several tick-borne diseases that are seen in our Midwest region:

             - Lyme Disease is transmitted by the Deer Tick (black-legged ticks) and is found in every US state & Canadian province.  Dogs are 50% more likely to get Lyme disease than humans.

            - Ehrlichiosis is the 2nd most common canine infectious disease in the US (after Parvovirus) and is transmitted by the American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, and the Lone Star Tick.

            - Anaplasmosis, transmitted by the Deer Tick, is surpassing the prevalence of Lyme disease in some areas of the country.


**please note that all of the above mentioned ticks can carry and transmit other serious infections besides those mentioned.


Symptoms of these tick-borne illnesses are similar, and may remain hidden for awhile after infection. 


Symptoms include fever, lameness, swollen joints, anorexia, or depression.   Left untreated, some of these diseases can cause kidney failure, chronic joint pain, anemia, low white blood cell counts and platelets (meaning your dog’s body cannot clot blood well nor fight infection).  Autoimmune diseases, blindness, and even death may also result from untreated infections.


When caught early, tick-borne diseases are often treated with antibiotics.


Many people don’t see ticks as a big issue, because they don’t see them.  But they are there!  Grasses, fallen leaves, woods…ticks are thriving.  And they are on the move as they attach to wild animals who wander around.  Think about it: deer mice, squirrels, raccoons & opossum are seen even in the suburbs.  White-Tail deer are becoming common close to and in suburban areas.  Ticks can and will hitch a ride on almost anything.


In 2011, the Ohio Department of Health reported the following human cases: Lyme 53, Anaplasmosis 9, Ehrlichiosis 5.  They also reported 21 cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, with almost half of Ohio’s human cases coming from Franklin, Clermont & Lucas counties.


Idexx Laboratories serve the animal health industry in a variety of ways.  Suburban Animal Clinic utilizes the Idexx Snap 4Dx test which, with a few drops of blood, tests for heartworm disease as well as lyme, ehrlichia & anaplasmosis.  That’s 4 tests in 1!  Why do we use this test?


Of the clinics using the Idexx tests, from 2007-present, Ohio has had the following in dogs:

            Ehrlichia 513 cases

            Lyme 803 cases

            Anaplasmosis 224 cases


Not everybody uses this combination test, so these numbers are just from clinics using this test and reporting their numbers.  In reality, these numbers are likely a whole lot higher.


Clinics in Franklin County using the Idexx 4Dx snap test, from 2007-present, have reported:

            Ehrlichia 110 cases

            Lyme 179 cases

            Anaplasmosis 35 cases


Again, this is just from clinics using the 4Dx snap test!  And in reality, many of these cases were probably accidental findings.  Dogs come in for their yearly heartworm test, symptom free for any tick-borne diseases, yet they may come up positive for one of the 3 tick diseases in the test.  Early diagnosis means early treatment and a better chance for recovery.


Again, why do we use this test?  Because tick-borne diseases are out there, and when we have a dog come up positive it’s usually an accidental finding.  And we already draw blood for a heartworm test, so why not go ahead and do a 4-in-1 test which includes common tick diseases?  By testing for Lyme, Ehrilichia, and Anaplasmosis along with the yearly heartworm test, we’re going the extra step to give the best care we can to you and your pets.


Now that we’ve discussed creepy, crawly ticks and their diseases, let’s prevent them!  Check yourself and your pets after every outing for ticks.  On animals, ticks prefer to hang out around the legs, belly and face (especially ears!).  Use a tick prevention (K9 Advantix, Frontline Plus, Seresto Flea/Tick Collar) if your dog spends a lot of time in areas with large tick populations (prairies, farms, woods).  There is even a Lyme vaccine available for high-risk dogs.


Ask a Suburban staff member today about protecting your dog, and yourself, from ticks!


Take advantage of our special on K9 Advantix! Buy a 6 pk & get 2 doses FREE!!!


Suburban Animal Clinic is located in West Columbus off I-70 near I-270.  Suburban Animal Clinic serves Galloway, Hilltop, West Side, Georgesville, West Jefferson, Grove CityGrandviewUpper Arlington (including OSU Campus area), Hilliard and Dublin.