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Tick-borne diseases are spread between animals through the bite of an infected tick. Dogs and cats, and even humans tend to be susceptible to these diseases. Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that latch and feed on animals through their saliva and as a result transmit diseases.
These parasites belong to the arthropod family and are quite easy to recognize – flat and round and attached at the head to your pet’s skin. They live in low bushes, shrubs, lawn and tall grass – the very places that your pet likes to pass through.
Ticks have a life cycle of approximately three months and experience 4 stages – from egg to larva, from larva to nymph and nymph to adult. If left untreated, tick-borne diseases can cause serious health complications and sometimes even be fatal.
- Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne diseases caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. It typically affects humans and dogs, although cats may also be affected. Lyme disease cannot be spread directly to people by infected dogs.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a tick-borne disease caused by the bacteria Rickettsia rickettsii. It commonly transmitted by the Lone Star tick, Deer tick, American dog tick, Pacific Coast tick and Rocky Mountain tick. This tick-borne disease occurs during spring and summer
- Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne disease of the white blood cells caused by bacteria rickettsia. It affects dogs and cats as well as humans. This disease is common in Africa, United States and Europe.
- Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease that attacks the red blood cells caused by the parasite, Babesia. This disease is common in Europe, Africa and Asia. It can be fatal.
The diagnosis of tick-borne diseases are based on the symptoms and performing certain tests. Tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) to detect the presence of antibodies will be performed to confirm the diagnosis of tick-borne diseases.
Lyme Disease Symptoms and Signs
- Swollen joints
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Bull’s eye lesion
- Poor appetite
Rocky Mountain spotted fever Symptoms and Signs
- Poor appetite
- Swollen and painful joints
- Eye inflammation
- Hemorrhages under the skin
- Enlarged lymph nodes
Babesiosis Symptoms and Signs
- Loss of appetite
- Pale gums
Ehrlichiosis Symptoms and Signs
- Muscle aches and stiffness
- Weight loss
There are various methods to remove and control ticks. If you choose to remove the tick yourself, use a pair of tweezers to pull it out. Wear gloves, then place the tweezers level with the skin, squeeze, grip firmly and pull the tick straight up. However, if you are unsure about doing this, speak to your vet. Avoid burning, cutting or using petroleum jelly to remove the tick.
Other effective methods include sprays, topical spot-on products, dips and chemical collars. Be careful when using these products as they contain chemicals that may be harsh for your pet’s skin and also lead to other health complications. Certain vaccinations are also available to immunize your pet against tick-borne diseases and medications such as antibiotics may be prescribed.
Natural remedies also provide a gentler alternative to support your pet’s immune system, eliminate toxins and maintain overall health and well-being. These remedies have proven to be safe and effective without the harsh side effects of strong and toxic chemicals.
There are several things that you can do to prevent and control tick-borne diseases and these include:
- Feed your pet high quality commercial food or an all natural diet that contains the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients
- Provide fresh, clean water for your pet to avoid dehydration and flush out toxins
- Use tweezers or a tick-removing device to remove the tick and grab it as close to the head. Apply firm but gentle pressure and pull the tick out of the skin
- Check your pet frequently for ticks, especially if they have been in a tick-infested area
- Always wear gloves when removing a tick as they transmit diseases
- Keep your pets away from environments or areas with tall grass or low brushes that may inhabit ticks
- Disinfect your pet’s food and water bowls as well as sleeping environment regularly
- Remove ticks by spraying, bathing, dipping, powdering with a tick-repellant
- Detox your pet regularly to get rid of unwanted toxins
- Use topical spot-on products and certain tick collars such as Frontline, Preventic and Preventic Plus as recommended by your vet
- Never use the same tick products for your dog as you would for your cat