HOW DO TICK BORNE ILLNESSES AFFECT YOUR PET?
Almost everyone these days has had some kind of experience with tick borne illnesses. Whether it was yourself, a friend, family member, or your pet. Tick borne illnesses are in our area and unfortunately, they are not going away anytime soon. The most common ones we see in our dogs are Lyme disease (by far the most common), Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis.
Picture from the Carroll County Health Department cchd.maryland.gov
What do we know about these diseases? Studies are constantly being done so we can understand more about these tick borne illnesses. Things we as pet owner want to know are: What are the symptoms? What can be the long term effects? Is there a way to prevent our dogs from getting these diseases?
All three of these tick borne diseases can show similar symptoms. Some signs can be: fever, lethargy, joint swelling, joint pain, and loss of appetite. Dogs can present with all, some or even none of these symptoms, every pet is different. Without a blood test it is impossible to determine which of these tick borne diseases your dog may have.
One of the easiest screenings we do are annual blood tests in our hospital. This in house blood test is called a 4DX Snap test. It looks for Heartworms, Lyme, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis. We can have the results in under 10 minutes so you as the pet owner know the outcome before you leave the hospital. We can find positive tests on pets that are showing absolutely no symptoms. We can catch these diseases before they start to show physical signs and get them treatment immediately. However, just because they are not showing physical symptoms does not mean they are completely in the clear. These diseases have a very high rate of affecting the kidneys and platelet counts. These can cause long term irreversible damage to the kidneys, especially if untreated. So anytime a pet is positive for any of these we recommend doing a full blood panel to look for any undetectable damage to internal organs.
The only one of these three diseases there is a vaccination available for is Lyme disease. We do highly recommend every dog be vaccinated for Lyme because of the amount of it in our area. We even see Lyme in small breed dogs who rarely go outdoors and only remain in the owners yard. However, Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis have no vaccine available at this time. Therefore regular, year round tick prevention is always strongly recommended for every dog, yes even in the winter. Unfortunately Maryland does not get cold enough for us to be able to stop preventative over the winter months, If the weather gets over 40 degrees the ticks will come out even if there is snow on the ground. With all the prevention options thrown at owners these days it can be very confusing and overwhelming to determine what is best option for you and your dog. What is carried in our hospital are products that have been thoroughly tested and proven to be effective against fleas and ticks. These are products we give our own pets. Because nothing is ever 100% we still recommend vaccinating against Lyme, using regular prevention and annual blood testing.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us by phone, email or stopping in to talk.
Our phone number is: 410-848-3100. Email address is: [email protected]