Ticks? Lyme Disease? What is going on and why do we need to be concerned about it?
It’s true that Vermont never had many ticks until the last few years, but we definitely have them now! Several tick varieties include Lone Star, American Dog, Black Legged/Deer, and Brown Dog ticks. There is even a Fisher tick. Each is a potential disease-infected parasite! According to the Vermont Lyme Network, “If you, your dog, or your cat is bit by a tick in Vermont, the chances are from 20% to 50% that that tick is carrying Lyme disease.”
Ticks are here, they are going to stay here and they are going to transmit some pretty nasty diseases to both us and our pets. In addition to Lyme disease ticks also can be carrying Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis. What you need to know is what each of these diseases looks like in your pet. The most common symptoms for Lyme disease are lameness and high fever. What we call a “shifting leg lameness” means that the dog could be lame on his right front leg yesterday but today is lame on his left hind leg. High fevers usually cause them to be lethargic and not want to eat. Lyme disease can also cause a severe kidney disease that you would observe as very frequent urination and drinking a large amount of water.
The initial symptoms of Ehrlichiosis can be depression, loss of appetite, fever, loss of stamina, weight loss, eye and nasal discharges, difficulty breathing, swollen glands and limbs. The more advanced stages of Ehrlichiosis can cause severe bleeding, including bleeding from the nose, mouth and eyes, pale gums due to anemia, weight loss, abdominal tenderness and neurological problems. Also, like Lyme disease, there can be lameness involving one or more limbs, muscular stiffness, difficulty standing up and joint swelling and pain.
Symptoms of Anaplasmosis include fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and a reluctance to move due to pain in multiple joints. This disease is most commonly diagnosed in the Fall season when the transmitting tick is most active but Anaplasmosis can be seen at any time.
All of these diseases have many symptoms in common but the most important commonality is they are only transmitted by ticks. I have previously written about the different ways to prevent tick infestation but I will repeat it now. Spot-on type flea and tick preventative purchased from your veterinarian is the most effective way to stop ticks. Vaccinating your dog for Lyme disease is also highly recommended. Please see your veterinarian for the preventatives before you need a cure.