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“I never would have checked that spot if the dog wasn’t limping,” says Dr Alexander Robb. The tick had burrowed itself under the dewclaw (that extra digit found higher on your pet’s leg). “Trust your instincts if your pet isn’t acting like himself.”
Ticks are parasites that can attach to your dog and cat (and you, too). These tiny terrors feed on blood and leave behind diseases.
Some of the illnesses they cause can be fatal. Others can lead to lifelong pain and discomfort.
Preventive medicine is the best way to avoid disease.
For dogs, we recommend an oral tick preventative. Our pets have had good results with a few brands, which we can discuss. For cats, we recommend a topical medication.
Prevention is the key to tick-related diseases. Although we may be able to treat some of these diseases, the treatment can be lengthy, costly, and in some cases, ineffective.
The three most common diseases we see in Denver:
#1: Both dogs and cats can get Rocky Mountain spotted fever, though it’s most common in dogs. This disease can cause lameness and painful joints, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, depression, and reduced appetite. Severe cases can lead to liver and kidney damage, heart abnormalities, pneumonia, and seizures.
#2: Ehrlichiosis shows up within a month of a tick bite. A dog’s symptoms can include lowered appetite, depression, bruising, and painful joints.
#3: Dogs and cats infected with anaplasmosis may exhibit pain in the joints, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and nervous system abnormalities.
If you’re traveling with your pet, you’ll want to know about these five tick-borne illnesses common outside of Denver.
Lyme disease is the best-known variety of tick-related diseases. The tick feeds on your dog or cat for about 48 hours, leaving behind lameness, fever, reduced appetite, swollen lymph nodes and joints, kidney disease, nervous system disorders, and heart problems. A Lyme disease vaccine is available for dogs but not for cats.
Babesiosis can affect dogs and cats. Symptoms include depression, pale gums, fever, dark urine, swollen lymph nodes, collapse, and shock. These reactions are typically more severe in dogs.
Tularemia in cats shows up with nasal discharge, swollen lymph nodes, and a high fever. Dogs show depression, reduced appetite, and a fever.
Ticks secrete a toxin that causes tick paralysis. Symptoms show up about seven days after a tick bite. Paralysis first weakens a dog’s rear legs. Eventually, all limbs are weak. The dog might also have difficulty breathing or swallowing. Severe cases lead to death.
Cytauxzoonosis can cause cats to become anemic, develop a high fever, feel depressed, have difficulty breathing, and become jaundiced (yellowing of the skin). It can even cause death within a week of infection. Treatment is often unsuccessful but can include specialized medications, intravenous fluids, and supportive care.
For more information, check out the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) website article, “Tiny tick, big threat.”
Remember—you know your pet better than anyone else. Call us if your dog or cat is acting out of character. We’re here for you 24/7.