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Tick-borne Diseases in Pets

Tick-borne Diseases in Dogs

A dog with several ticks attached.
Photograph by Daniele Franchi

In addition to Lyme disease, dogs can contract other various illnesses from ticks, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, bartonellosis, tularemia, American canine hepatozoonosis and tick paralysis.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted by American dog ticks, lone star ticks and wood ticks. The symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever are swollen lymph nodes, fever, reduced appetite, swelling of face or extremities, joint pain, lameness, vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, dogs have developed heart abnormalities, pneumonia, kidney failure, liver damage and neurological symptoms. In severe cases unraised perfectly round, purplish red spots have been seen in the mouth. This is caused by bleeding below the surface of the tissue.

Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is transmitted by deer ticks and western blacklegged ticks. The symptoms of anaplasmosis are joint pain, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and nervous system disorder can develop. A dog can experience symptoms within 1–2 weeks of infection.

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is transmitted by American dog ticks, brown dog ticks and lone star ticks. The symptoms of ehrlichiosis will usually appear within a month of being infected. The symptoms are depression, reduced appetite, bruises and still and pain joints.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is transmitted by deer ticks and western blacklegged ticks. These ticks will transmit a protozoa that infects the red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Symptoms of babesiosis are pale gums, depression, dark urine, fever and swollen lymph nodes. The symptoms in dogs are usually acute and severe.

Bartonellosis

Barttonellosis is transmitted by deer ticks and western blacklegged ticks. Bartonellosis is the primary agent of Cats Scratch Disease (CSD). The symptoms in dogs are similar to those seen in humans. They are nausea, reduced appetite, irregular heartbeat, swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. A dog will sometimes experience lameness, enlarged liver or spleen, arthritis and inflammation of the heart and brain.

Tularemia

Dogs are known to be resistant to tularemia. The symptoms they can develop if infected are reduced appetite, depression and fever.

American Canine Hepatozoonosis

Dogs are infected with hepatozoonsis by ingesting an infected tick rather than through transmission by a tick bite. Gulf Coast ticks are the most common carries of hepatozoonsis. Symptoms are fever, muscle pain, mild to moderate anemia, runny, eyes and reduced appetite. A dog can have long problems, such as inflammation of the kidneys. Hepatozoonsis is a lifelong infection in dogs.

Tick Paralysis

Tick paralysis is caused by a toxin in the saliva of a tick. American dog ticks and Rocky Mountain wood ticks are the most common species of tick that cause tick paralysis, although deer ticks and lone star ticks have also been known to. Tick paralysis will attack the nervous system. Early symptoms are lack of coordination, changes in breathing, gagging, coughing, vomiting and dilated pupils. Symptoms usually appear in 3–9 days after the tick has attached.

Tick-borne Diseases in Cats

In addition to Lyme disease, cats can contract other various illnesses from ticks, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, bartonellosis, tularemia, cytauxzoonosis, and tick paralysis.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Cats can become infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but it is not common. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is transmitted by American dog ticks, lone star ticks and wood ticks. The symptoms are reduced appetite, joint pain, fever, lameness, vomiting and diarrhea.

Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is transmitted by deer ticks and western blacklegged ticks. A cat will show symptoms in 1–2 weeks after being infected. Symptoms are fever, reduced appetite, lethargy and sore and swollen joints.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis in cats can start out with only mild symptoms and become more severe over time. The symptoms are weakness, reduced appetite, lethargy, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, fever and anemia.

Ehrlichiosis

It is not common for a cat to be infected with ehrlichiosis. Early on a cat shows signs that are similar to other tick-borne diseases such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, reduced appetite and lethargy.

Bartonellosis

Barttonellosis is transmitted by deer tick and western blacklegged ticks. It is the primary agent of Cats Scratch Disease (CSD). Most cats are asymptomatic, but they could show symptoms, such as fever, vomiting, red eyes, reduced appetite and swollen lymph nodes.

Tularemia

Cats are at a higher risk of becoming infected with tularemia than most other domesticated animals. Tularemia is also known as rabbit fever. Cats can be infected through the bite of American dog ticks, wood ticks and lone star sicks. The symptoms are usually acute and include fever, swollen glands or lymph nodes, lethargy, and appetite changes. Sometimes reduced mobility, changes in pulse or respiratory rates and frequent urination are seen.

Cytauxzoonosis

Cytauxzoonosis is transmitted by lone star ticks. It is a result of an infection by a protozoan parasite. Symptoms are anemia, fever, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms usually develop around ten days after infection.

Tick Paralysis

It is not common for a cat to be infected with tick paralysis, but it is important to know what to look for. Tick paralysis is caused by a toxin in the saliva of a tick. American dog ticks and Rocky Mountain wood ticks are the most common species of tick that cause tick paralysis, although deer ticks and lone star ticks have also been known to. Tick paralysis will attack the nervous system. Early symptoms are lack of coordination, changes in breathing, gagging, coughing, vomiting and dilated pupils. Symptoms usually appear in 3–9 days after the tick has attached.

Tick-borne diseases in Cattle

In addition to Lyme disease, cattle can anaplasmosis and bovine babesiosis from ticks.

Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is transmitted by deer ticks and western blacklegged ticks. A cat will show symptoms in 1–2 weeks after being infected. Symptoms are fever, reduced appetite, lethargy and sore and swollen joints.

Bovine Babesiosis

Sometimes called cattle tick fever. Symptoms are fever, anemia, decreased milk production, weakness, lethargy and reduced appetite.

Tick-borne diseases in Horses

In addition to Lyme disease, a horse can contract anaplasmosis and equine piroplasmosis from ticks.

Anaplasmosis

The symptoms of anaplasmosis in a horse usually appear 10–45 days after being infected. The symptoms include fever, swelling of limbs and anemia. Anaplasmosis infection comes from deer ticks or western blacklegged ticks.

Equine Piroplasmosis

Equine piroplasmosis is a protozoan parasite caused by Theileria equi and/or Babesia caballi. Symptoms are fever, anemia, jaundice, hemoglobinuria (red urine), reduced appetite, labored breathing, lethargy, swollen abdomen and colic. It is not common for horses to be infected with equine piroplasmosis; it can be severe if they are infected.

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Sources

Center for Disease Control www.cdc.gov

Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine www.vet.cornell.edu

University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food & Environment afs.ca.uky.edu

Merk Veterinary Manual www.merkvetmanual.com