Ticks and fleas can be carriers of serious medical conditions that can negatively affect your dog’s overall health. Because of this, it is important to keep your dog on preventive pet drugs like Frontline Plus or Comfortis to keep infestations at bay all year long. Even if you take the necessary precautions to keep your pup safe, it doesn’t hurt to understand the tick and flea borne diseases that can harm your dog.
Most people know that ticks can carry Lyme disease that can be transferred to dogs and people. However, some might not know that much about Rocky Mountain spotted fever. This disease has grown more prevalent in recent years and it is predicted that multiple species of ticks can carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but the American dog tick is the most common source.
This disease can be tricky to diagnose or find symptoms of, depending on the condition of your dog’s immune system. If it is a strong, healthy dog, it may not have actual symptoms if it develops Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Instead it may begin to act lethargic or have a loss of appetite for its pet food. The dog may also experience lameness or stiffness in its legs that does not subside even after you give it joint enhancing supplements like Dasuquin.
If your dog has a weaker immune system, it may develop more chronic forms of the condition. Aside from symptoms like lethargy and loss of appetite, your dog may also develop inflammation of the blood vessels as a secondary problem. This may lead to the dog bleeding from its mouth or urinary tract as well as it bruising more easily. If the condition goes undiagnosed for longer, the dog may also develop pneumonia or cardiac arrhythmias and many times, neurologic complications can begin to occur.
If you notice any of these signs, you should bring the dog to the vet for testing. The vet will most likely run blood tests including a newer PCR blood test that specifically looks to identify tick-borne diseases. Once a diagnosis is made, the vet will prescribe one month of treatments with a drug like Doxycycline which treats a variety of infections. Stick the capsules in Greenies Pill Pockets to disguise the medicine as a snack. Most dogs are able to make a full recovery from Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but some may have occasional flare-ups months or even years later.