by Good Dog People June 11, 2020 7 min read

While us humans have irksome pests like mosquitoes, our pups face similar annoyances in the form of fleas and ticks. These tiny parasites do more than just feed on your pup’s blood, they can attach themselves onto your pup and live on your dog for years if left untreated. 

A flea or tick infestation can cause more than just skin irritation - it can result in severe and even fatal tick-borne diseases. To prevent your pup from contracting any of these diseases, it’s important to understand what symptoms to look out for.

Let’s take a look at some of the different tick-borne diseases your pup could face.

Canine Babesiosis

Dangerous Tick-Borne Dog Diseases and How To Prevent Them

Common worldwide, the Babesia infection is a tick-borne infection that invades a dog’s red blood cells to cause anemia. For Racing Greyhounds and Pit Bull Terriers, Canine Babesiosis can pose an even greater threat.

Furthermore, evidence suggests Babesiosis can be transmitted animal-to-animal as well, such as if an infected dog bites another or through tainted blood transfusions, especially in the case of Babesia Gibsoni, a subset of the infection that primarily affects Pit Bull Terriers. This, therefore, makes dog kennels with poor tick control a dangerous place for pups.

If your dog has tick bites or have been potentially exposed to ticks and other infected animals, make sure to bring them to a vet, and watch out for these symptoms:

  • Abnormally dark urine
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Pale Mucous Membranes (Around the gums, inside of eyelids, other pink and fleshy areas)
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Enlarged Spleen

Diagnosed via blood smears, dogs infected with Babesiosis can recover from it, but often remain sub-clinically infected. In other words, although your dog has recovered from the infection and no longer exhibits the symptoms, they may experience a relapse further down the road, and could become a source of the infection.

If your pup does contract Babesiosis, make sure that they are never used as donors for blood transfusions as recipients of their tainted blood may develop the disease. 

For such an infectious disease like Canine Babesiosis, the best cure is prevention. So on your next walk with your dog, equip them with anti flea and tick products like Insect Shield’s Flea & Tick Repellent Bandana for a fashionable way to protect against mosquitoes, ticks, flies and fleas!

Lyme Disease

Dangerous Tick-Borne Dog Diseases and How To Prevent Them

Caused by a type of bacteria called spirochete bacteria, Lyme disease can occur in both humans and dogs and more cases are being reported worldwide. Left untreated, Lyme disease can cause fatal kidney failure, but unlike in humans, it can be more difficult to diagnose in dogs.

This is because the trademark “bulls-eye” shaped rash that appears on humans who’ve been bitten by ticks do not appear on dogs. In fact, symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs only surface 2-5 months after a tick bite - and all it takes is for the tick to be attached to their host for around 2 days.

Some symptoms of Lyme Disease include:

  • Fever
  • Lameness or limping
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling of joints or lymph nodes
  • Lethargy

If your pup experiences any of these symptoms after getting bitten by a tick, bring them to a vet right away. They will require blood tests to diagnose the disease, but a fast response on your part will help your vet better treat your pup.

The best practice is to get your pup updated on their vaccinations as there is a vaccine for Lyme disease that may help to reduce the rate and severity of this disease.

Canine Ehrlichiosis

Dangerous Tick-Borne Dog Diseases and How To Prevent Them

Canine Ehrlichiosis can be found worldwide and is caused by more common ticks like the Brown Dog Tick, Lone Star Tick and American Dog Tick.

Much like Lyme Disease, symptoms of Canine Ehrlichiosis surface only after a period of time - in this case, at least 1-3 weeks. Early diagnosis can help your dog’s chances at recovery, but pups in the chronic phase of Ehrlichiosis may find it difficult to recover.

Early symptoms of Ehrlichiosis in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Respiratory distress
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Neurological issues like seeming unsteady or developing meningitis

After the early stage, pups will stop showing symptoms of illness. In some cases, some pups may be able to eliminate the infection on their own, but there is a high chance that your dog is still infected. Regardless of whether they are still showing symptoms, it’s vital to get them to a vet as soon as these symptoms surface. 

As Canine Ehrlichiosis progresses in your pup, more serious symptoms will surface including:

  • Anemia
  • Bleeding episodes
  • Lameness
  • Eye problems, including hemorrhages or bleeding from the eyes or blindness
  • Neurological problems
  • Swollen Limbs

Your dog’s bone marrow may even begin to fail and result in your dog being unable to manufacture more blood cells to sustain their life. At the later stages of Ehrlichiosis, treatment becomes much more difficult and has a lower success rate.

The best protection from Ehrlichiosis is to prevent flea and tick bites as much as you can with NexGard’s Flea and Tick Chewables. Coming in a delicious beef-flavour, Nexgard chewables help protect your dog from flea and tick infestations for up to 30 days by killing adult fleas. These chewables can also help treat and control roundworms, hookworms and whipworms!

Treating Tick Bites

Dangerous Tick-Borne Dog Diseases and How To Prevent Them

While this list does not cover all the important tick-borne diseases to watch out for, it does make it clear that tick-borne diseases can be hard to spot. More often than not, tick-borne diseases have long incubation periods during which your pup may not exhibit any symptoms of illness.

Yet early diagnosis can be absolutely vital to help your pup recover from any tick-borne illness. 

There are some things you can do if your dog does exhibit symptoms of illness - even common, non-specific ones like a loss of appetite or lethargy:

  • Be Aware of Your Dog’s History : Keep track of your dog’s medical history and exposure to ticks and fleas.
  • Educate Yourself : Understand the potential symptoms and incubation periods of different diseases. If your dog does get bitten by a tick, make sure to watch out for any possible symptoms, especially during their possible incubation periods.
  • Diagnose Early : If your dog does exhibit any potential symptoms, especially after exposure to ticks, get them to a veterinarian as soon as you can

If your dog does get bitten by ticks, make sure to get rid of them as soon as you can. 

Make use of flea and tick medicine for dogs like Frontline’s Flea & Tick Treatment for this. Apply Frontline Plus directly on your pup’s skin, rather than on their haircoat to effectively kill adult fleas within 12 hours of application. 

With a firm, upward movement, use a pair of tweezers to pull stubborn ticks directly out of your dog’s fur. To avoid infections, make sure to disinfect any tick bites with some rubbing alcohol or iodine.

After that, give your dog a nice soothing bath with Washbar’s Natural Original Soap For Dogs. While this all-natural soap bar can prevent ticks for up to a month, it also helps to soothe your pup’s itchy skin.  

Prevention is Better than Cure

Dangerous Tick-Borne Dog Diseases and How To Prevent Them

In the end, the best practice is still to avoid getting bitten by ticks entirely. Here are some flea and tick prevention methods for dogs:

Going on Safe Walks

When bringing your dog on a walk, it can be tempting to walk through the calm and beautiful wooded areas. However, these areas are warm, shaded and moist and as such are perfect breeding grounds for these tiny pests. 

Instead, try to keep to more urban areas, although they can still be found in urban park areas and even residential areas. 

You could also give Tropiclean’s Natural Flea & Tick Dog Collar a try the next time you go on a walk with your dog. Made with natural ingredients such as cedarwood and peppermint oils, this waterproof collar acts as a repellent against pesky mosquitoes and ticks. 

Tick Spray

To prevent ticks from infesting both your dog and your home, make use of Tropiclean’s great selection of Tick Sprays suitable for application on your dog and around your home.

Tropiclean’s Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs is a great tick spray for dogs and kills fleas, ticks, larvae, eggs and even mosquitoes on contact. This effect lasts for up to two weeks, so regular application will help your pup avoid tick bites.

Having ticks on your dog also often means having ticks in your home - therefore it’s also important to keep ticks away from your home using Tropiclean’s Flea & Tick Spray for Home.

Boost Their Immune System

To give your pup the best fighting chance against these tick-borne diseases, help boost their immune system by giving them delicious probiotics treats like LactoGold’s Probiotic Fermented Oat Dog Treats.

Chock full of Lactobacillus, one of the best grades of probiotic bacteria, this nutritious treat can help improve your pup’s overall immune system.

Kin+Kind also produces a great Raw Coconut Oil Dog Supplement that contains Medium Chain Triglycerides, a type of good fat that can promote your dog’s digestion system, thyroid health, metabolism, skin and coat health and most importantly, immune health!

Dangerous Tick-Borne Dog Diseases and How To Prevent Them

It can be easy to treat tick bites as harmless, because they generally are - but the potential diseases that your dog may contract from tick bites are no laughing matter. With how easy it is to prevent and treat tick infestations, it’s absolutely vital to act now, before it’s too late. For more ways of tackling fleas and ticks, do check out our article on some natural alternatives to chemical flea and tick treatments


    Tammi ChngTAMMI CHNG
    Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog. 

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