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What Is Tick-Borne Disease in Dogs?

Updated: Feb 27

A pet owner who is checking tics on her dog

Experts have reported that tick-borne infections in humans are on the rise in Canada. As temperatures increase globally, ticks have started to migrate, becoming more populous all over the country.

Pets are at risk for these illnesses, too. Tick-borne disease in dogs may lead to serious health complications. Year-round tick prevention is the most effective method to protect your pet from these infections.

In this guide, we will explain the common tick-borne illnesses in Canada and how to prevent them from impacting your dogs.

Lyme Disease-The Most Common Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs

Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Canada. Although we routinely test for Anaplasma and Ehrlichia as well these are less common and seen mostly in rescue dogs from warmer climates Dogs can contract Lyme disease after a bite from a black-legged or deer tick.( Collectively referred to as Ixodid ticks)

This condition is also known as borreliosis, which refers to the type of bacteria that causes it. There are 21 different species of Borrelia bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.

In Canada, the most common Borrelia species that causes Lyme disease is Borrelia burgdorferi. Getting infected with this bacterium leads to symptoms that can be deadly.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Tick-borne disease symptoms can be easily mistaken for other common pet health problems. Bring your dog to your local animal clinic if you notice any of the following signs of this condition:

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

  • Appetite loss

  • Swollen or stiff joints

  • Discomfort

  • Pain

  • Lameness

  • Depression

  • Breathing difficulties

  • Tactile sensitivity

  • Swollen lymph nodes

Without treatment, these symptoms may progress to heart or kidney failure. Lyme disease can also cause chronic health conditions in dogs. The most common long-term effects of Lyme disease are polyarthritis (~10% of dogs) and nephritis (1-5% of dogs). When pet parents realize their dog is sick, bring your dog to the clinic as soon as possible.

Tick-Borne Disease Prevention

Topical medication can protect your dog from ticks, fleas, and other parasites. This is the best way to protect from lyme disease. There is also a fairly effective annual vaccine for lyme disease for dogs at high risk or travelling to a high risk area .

Other strategies to prevent your dog from getting tick-borne illnesses include avoiding heavy brush. Stick to well-worn trails when you do adventure together. Also, remember that ticks can survive in temperatures as low as 4°C so for many dogs at risk this means year round protection.

Always examine your dog for ticks when you return home from tick-infested areas. Inspect your pup's coat thoroughly, especially the feet, neck, head, and ears. If you find a tick, wear gloves and remove it with tweezers, making sure to disinfect the area when you're done. Removing the tick before it has been feeding for 24 hours also helps prevent the transmission of the organism. If the area becomes swollen and red it should be examined by your veterinarian.

Need a Veterinarian in Toronto?

Tick-borne diseases are a threat to humans and animals. Knowing the signs to look for can help you get prompt pet care in Toronto.

Do you need help identifying the symptoms of tick-borne disease in dogs? Kato Animal Hospital is here for you and your pet. Contact Kato Animal Hospitalin Toronto to schedule an appointment.


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