Let’s face it, ticks are nasty little pests that are on a mission to hurt our pets. Spring and summer are the busiest times for tick activity (although ticks are a risk year-round) and they will not hold back on trying to find a host on which to feed. Not only are ticks a nuisance for your pet, they can cause some real damage if they carry bacteria with them. There are three common tick-borne diseases to understand.
- Lyme disease is transmitted to a pet within 24-48 hours of an infected tick being attached. The tick must carry the Lyme bacteria to transfer the disease to your pet and the most common carrier is the blacklegged tick (aka deer tick or bear tick) and the western blacklegged tick. Information from the American Kennel Club tells us Lyme disease “is caused by the spiral-shaped bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi that is carried inside the tick and then gets into the dog’s or person’s bloodstream through a tick bite. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria can travel to different parts of the body and cause problems in specific organs or locations, such as joints, as well as overall illness.”
- Ehrlichiosis is another bacterial illness transferred by infected ticks. The main carrier is the lone star tick which is found primarily in the southeastern and eastern United States. The illness is transferred from ticks that carry the E. canis bacteria.
- Anaplasmosis is transmitted to a pet within 12-24 hours of an infected tick being attached. The most common carrier is the blacklegged tick (aka deer tick or bear tick) and the western blacklegged tick. The brown dog tick also carries a small form of the bacteria. This illness is transferred from ticks with a bacteria called A. phagocytophilum or A. platys.
Tick-borne diseases are zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred by pets to humans. The real threat to humans with tick-borne diseases is that pets can bring ticks into your home, and those ticks could carry these various bacteria. If they attach to you, your risk of infection is present. This is a good reminder that protecting your pet from contracting tick-borne illnesses not only helps keep them healthy and safe, but also protects your family.
Our veterinarians will be happy to answer any questions you have about Lyme disease during your visit to a clinic. If you have questions, feel free to visit our staff at a Community Clinic or Wellness Center near you.