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Diseases that ticks can transmit to your dog

In the act of biting for the suction of blood that they use as food, they can inoculate pathogenic microorganisms that they carried inside and cause a pathology in a healthy animal, and as we will also see, not only the bite is the way of penetration of microorganisms. carried by the parasite inside the healthy canid.

Apart from the possibility of disease transmission, its bite can produce the following actions:

  • Depletive : some female ticks (adult female of the Ixodes type) can “steal” up to three cubic centimeters of blood… in a massive tick infestation, the anemia caused can have very serious consequences.
  • Irritative : the bite itself and the anchoring system to the host’s skin cause variable skin lesions depending on the individual characteristics of the dog: inflammation, irritation, secondary infections, abscesses at the point of inoculation… and we must bear in mind that these actions irritative can cause paralysis due to certain salivary secretions of the parasite.

If we focus on possible tick-borne diseases:

  • bite paralysis
    Some of the components of the tick’s saliva can produce paralysis in the parasitized animal; this is usually caused by ticks of the Rhipicephalus, Dermacentor and Ixodes types.

    The saliva of these parasites has components with a neurotoxic effect, neurotoxins that can block neuromuscular transmission, which could lead to death.

    The first symptoms usually appear between 4-6 days after the bite:

    • Loss of sensation, mainly of the extremities.
    • Lameness of varying degrees.
    • Incoordination in walking and running.
    • Respiratory difficulty.
    • Hyperthermia or hypothermia (high or low body temperature)
    • Digestive disorders: mainly vomiting.
    • Cardiovascular problems.
    • Death: usually due to paralysis of the chest muscles, paralysis that can be caused by a single tick.
  • Borreliosis or Lyme disease
    Disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi , a bacterium transmitted in Europe by the Ixodes ricinus tick.

    The tick is infected in the summer by Borrelia, which develops inside it. The Borrelia subsequently migrates inside the tick to the salivary glands; when they reach this position, they will be ready to penetrate the healthy dog accompanying the parasite’s saliva.

    Our pet can spend long periods of time without showing symptoms ; however, when the acute phase of the disease appears we can see:

    • Temperature elevation (40.5 degrees Celsius or more)
    • Joint pain.
    • Arthritis (inflammation of the joints)
    • Myalgias (muscle pains)
    • Increased lymph node size.
    • Lethargy, anorexia…
    • On certain occasions, meningitis, alterations of the central nervous system and pain in the neck and head can also occur, which are manifested by the dog’s resistance to movements that affect these areas.
    • On rare occasions, cardiac arrhythmias and kidney failure may also occur.
  • Ehrlichiosis
    This disease is caused by rickettsiae ( Ehrlichia canis, E. Chaffeensis, E. Ewingii, E.equi, E.platys ) that are transmitted by the tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus .

    The tick parasitized by rickectsia bites a healthy dog, once inside it it spreads through the blood and the lymphatic system until it reaches viscera as important as the liver, spleen and lymph nodes, sometimes it can reach the meninges .

    Among the symptoms of the disease, the animal presents:

    • Depression.
    • Weightloss.
    • Eye and nasal secretions.
    • Dyspnea (breathing difficulty)
    • Increased lymph node size.
    • Edema in extremities and scrotum…
    • If nervous symptoms are produced by the dissemination of the pathogenic agent to the meninges, neurological deficits (hyperesthesia, deficits in the cranial nerves) and meningitis may be observed.

These symptoms can disappear in one to two weeks if timely treatment is applied, but if the pathology does not resolve and becomes chronic, the main symptoms are:

    • Hematological alterations.
    • Pulmonary hemorrhages, thromboembolism.
    • Anemia and weakness.
    • Severe weight loss.
    • Uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye)
    • Hemorrhages in the retina.
    • neurological signs.
    • Epistaxis (nosebleed) …
  • babesiosis
    Babesiosis is caused by Babesia canis, a protozoan parasite that is transmitted in Europe by Rhipicephalus sanguineus, Dermacentor reticulatus, and Ixodes canisuga .

    When the Babesia-infected tick bites, it inoculates infective forms called merozoites, which penetrate blood cells and begin their cycle of divisions.

    Babesiosis can present acutely or chronically:

    • Acute form : occurs ten to twenty-one days after entry of the pathogenic agent; the dog has a fever (up to 41 degrees), lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, respiratory problems and apathy.
    • Chronic form : intermittent fever, marked weight loss, liver disorders (jaundice: yellowing of the mucous membranes, skin…), spleen disorders, and even death due to “shock”.
  • Hepatozoonosis
    Disease caused by protozoa (of two types: Hepatozoon canis , in Europe, and Hepatozoon american , in the USA) and transmitted by the tick Rhipicephalus sanguineus .

    It is usually associated with poor hygienic conditions of the animal and the environment, especially affecting specimens with nutritional deficiencies and/or with a damaged immune system. Its presentation is frequent in overcrowded farms where antiparasitic guidelines are not met.

    The transmission of the disease occurs after the ingestion of parasitized ticks by the dog. The ingested tick reaches the digestive system of the canid, the protozoa are released and cross the intestine going to the liver, lymph nodes and bones.

    The animals may not have symptoms (it is the most frequent together with the presentation of mild symptoms) or present:

    • Fever, lethargy, anemia…
    • Weightloss.
    • Muscle pains.
    • Paralysis.
    • Adopting a posture known as “sitting dog.”
    • Digestive symptoms with bloody diarrhea.
    • Respiratory disorders with nasal and ocular suppuration.


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