What is Tick Fever?
- Tick Fever is a group of blood-borne diseases that are transmitted to your dog via bites from ticks. Ticks jump onto your dog and use their mouth parts to pierce the skin and suck a blood meal.
- The presence of the tick itself can trigger skin disease through irritation, and during the feeding mechanism the tick can introduce microscopic organisms into your dog’s blood which can cause systemic disease.
- There is no dog to dog transmission but any dogs that are in tick-infested areas are at risk.
- There are two main types of these parasites, known as Erlichia and Babesia, which attack the platelets (small cells in the blood stream involved in clotting) and red blood cells.
What are the Signs of Disease?
Signs can be acute or chronic. They can include:
- Lethargy and lack of appetite
- Panting and breathing difficulties
- Pale gums or jaundice
- Weight loss
- Nose bleeds, bruising and bleeding problems
- Dark brown or reddish urine
- Painful abdomen due to an enlarged spleen
How is it Treated?
- The degree of treatment undergone depends on the severity of the disease in each particular case.
- Treatment for Tick Fever caused by Erlichia spp consists of a course of specific antibiotics for a month or even longer. There are various treatment options for the treatment of tick fever caused by Babesia spp including a course of 1-2 injections or a combination of oral medication (an antibiotic and anti-malarial drug).
- Dogs displaying severe signs of the disease may need to be hospitalized for several days for blood typing, transfusion and intensive monitoring.
The disease can prove fatal despite treatment and many dogs that survive the initial disease may end up as life-long carriers prone to subsequent relapses of the disease.
How to Prevent?
As always, prevention is better than treatment:
- Use adequate flea and tick control. A tick collar (e.g. Preventic) can be used in conjunction with a number of flea and tick prevention products such as “Frontline” applied monthly to the back of the neck.
- Avoid exposure to areas with heavy tick infestations.
- Control the environment where possible using appropriate products and keep vegetation levels down.
- Remove ticks manually if seen.