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Ticks and the Nasty Diseases They Carry

Apr 19, 2013

tickTick fever is a tick-transmitted disease which affects dogs. The brown dog tick (the one we see most commonly in Tucson) carries the organism causing tick fever otherwise known as Ehrlichiosis. The disease is transmitted when the tick feeds on the dog’s blood.

Clinical signs of the acute phase of this disease can include lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, and discharge from the eye and nose. The signs of the chronic phase may include those mentioned for the acute phase plus nosebleeds, other abnormal bleeding and weight loss.

We diagnose Ehrlichiosis with a blood test. A history of prior tick infestation can be helpful; however, many owners are unaware of a tick bite.

Treatment of this disease can be difficult in the chronic phase. The acute phase usually responds to treatment with antibiotics. The chronic form can require several months of antibiotics and can be fatal.

The best way to prevent this disease is to keep your dog free of ticks. This can be easily accomplished using topical anti-parasitic medications, such as Revolution or Frontline. Small ticks can be extremely difficult to detect so prevention is key!

Written by Dr. Maria Miller