What Symptoms Do Ticks Cause In Dogs

Did you aware that ticks have the potential to spread and infect your cherished pet with a number of diseases? These may result in severe disease or even death. Our Westport veterinarians go over the signs of canine tick-borne infections, methods of prevention, and treatments in this article.

What are tick-borne diseases in dogs?

In addition to sucking blood from their victims, ticks are intracellular parasites that can transport and spread harmful pathogens to your dog’s body. Each year, hundreds of dogs get infected with various ailments by these bacteria, which are found inside the cells.

Serious (and in some cases deadly) long-term harm can also be brought on by conditions that arise from a tick bite. Therefore, it’s crucial to protect your dog from illnesses brought on by ticks and to get prompt medical attention from a licensed veterinarian if your dog does become ill.

Dogs and humans cannot directly contract disease from one other, despite the fact that many of the viruses that cause tick-borne illnesses are zoonotic and can infect humans.

Ticks are necessary for pathogens to complete their life cycle and become contagious. Therefore, in order to spread disease, a tick bite would be required. The following canine tick-borne diseases are most prevalent in the US:

Lyme Disease

The bacterium borrelia burgdorferi, which is spread by black-legged ticks or deer ticks, causes Lyme disease, a problem that is spreading quickly around the world. Before transmitting an infection to a host, the tick must feed for 24 to 48 hours.

Lethargy, lameness, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and joint discomfort or swelling are only a few of the signs of this condition. Kidney failure, which may be deadly, as well as major cardiac and neurological repercussions, can develop as a result of these symptoms.

Canine Bartonellosis

The brown dog tick is responsible for one of the less frequent blood-borne illnesses that affect dogs. Disturbing signs of canine bartonellosis can include fever, lameness, decreased brain function, seizures, loss of appetite, and irregular heartbeat. The illness can also spread to people.

Rickettsial Diseases

The bacterium rickettsia is responsible for several well-known tick-borne illnesses, including ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and canine anaplasmosis. The bacteria that make up rickettsial organisms are microscopic and intracellular.

If your dog has a severe illness, it could be essential for your veterinarian to perform numerous rounds of treatment and testing before making a conclusive diagnosis because it can be difficult to interpret diagnostic test results.

The sickness that the deer tick transmits is also known as dog tick fever or dog fever. The symptoms of infected hosts can be similar to those of other tick-borne illnesses, including lethargy, fever, stiff joints, appetite loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. Seizures may occur in extreme situations.

Canine ehrlichiosis is a disease that may be found all over the world and is carried and transmitted by ticks like the brown dog tick, lone star tick, American dog tick, and others.

Symptoms will start to show up between 1 and 3 weeks after your dog is bitten by an infected tick. Keep an eye out for signs including fever, bruises or nosebleeds, and decreased appetite. Low blood platelets may be found through testing (cells that help with blood clotting).

Canine ehrlichiosis may have better treatment outcomes, but if persistent symptoms have developed, your dog may find it more challenging to recover from this illness.

One of the more well-known diseases spread by ticks and widespread throughout North, South, and Central America is RMSF, which is carried by the Rocky Mountain wood tick, American dog tick, and brown deer tick. People and pets can contract the disease.

Swollen lymph nodes, low platelet counts, fever, anorexia, and joint discomfort are possible symptoms. Some dogs may have neurological issues that result in shaky gait or weak limbs.

Within 3 to 6 hours of a tick sticking to your dog, bacteria can spread that cause canine ehrlichiosis and RMSF.

Protozoal Diseases

These illnesses can be brought on by a protozoal intracellular parasite that lives in your dog’s red blood cells and includes:

Although the disease is most frequently spread through tick bites (from the brown dog tick and/or American dog tick), it can also spread through transplacental transmission and IV blood contamination.

Red blood cells can degrade, which can cause symptoms including jaundice (yellow or orange skin or eye whites), dark urine, pale gums, and lethargic behavior. The ability to vomit and weakness are further symptoms.

This tick-borne sickness differs from others in that your dog can get it only if he or she consumes protozoa by eating infected animals like rodents or birds.

What other symptoms should I look for?

The classic symptoms of canine tick-borne illnesses include vomiting fever, swollen joints, lameness, and lethargy. Other signs can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • muscle ache
  • limb swelling
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Skin blemishes
  • discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Loss of weight

How are tick-borne illnesses in dogs treated?

When it comes to illnesses brought on by ticks, early detection and effective treatment are essential. Your veterinarian may prescribe a variety of broad-spectrum antibiotics in the early stages of an illness, but you should be aware that they will also kill good bacteria in addition to harmful ones.

Probiotics can be recommended to deal with this problem and avoid digestive problems. Always adhere to your veterinarian’s recommended course of action.

It might be challenging to remove and control recurrent tick-borne infections. Even if your dog heals, he will still require routine blood tests in order to identify any recurrences. Ask your veterinarian for advice on tick prevention.

How can I prevent my dog from contracting a tick-borne disease?

Always keep in mind that while talking about ailments brought on by ticks, prevention should come first. To stop ticks and other parasites from infecting your pet, Poster Veterinary Associates offers a variety of parasite prevention products.

No strategy, however, is 100% effective, so before transporting your dog anywhere where ticks may grow, carefully evaluate your plans and use tick control measures. When you go home, you should also examine yourself and your dog for ticks.

Additionally, throughout tick season, occasionally inspect your dog (which lasts through spring, summer and fall, and is a year-round issue in warmer climates). They usually have dark brown or black coloring and can spread infections 3 to 6 hours after biting your dog.

If you see a tick, get rid of it right away to avoid getting sick. Think about taking your dog to our veterinary clinic so that a professional can securely remove it.

Do you suspect your dog is suffering from a tick-borne disease? Staff at Poster Veterinary Associates are equipped to diagnose and treat many illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment today.

Since 1993, Westport’s Poster Veterinary Associates has offered complete veterinary care for your beloved pets.

How long does it take for a dog to exhibit symptoms of a tick bite?

Many people believe that ticks may only harm humans, however dogs are actually more frequently utilized as hosts than people. Ticks can carry dangerous diseases in addition to being frightening and unsettling to discover eating on your pet.

Lyme Disease

A bacterial infection known as Lyme disease can affect mammals, birds, and people. It is mostly transmitted by a deer tick’s bite.


Lameness is the most typical sign of lyme disease in dogs. The infection may occasionally result in a fever, joint swelling, renal damage, and neurological problems. Lethargy, stiffness, increased urination, thirst, and urination may all affect your pet.

Diagnostics and therapy:

Two to five months after the tick first spread the bacterial disease to your pet, they may begin to exhibit symptoms. Even if your pet is not exhibiting any clinical symptoms, at-home laboratory tests like the 4dx can help screen for lyme disease. To help with the diagnosis of the illness, more diagnostic tests, such as a urine sample and extra bloodwork, may be required.

Although Lyme disease is treatable, it might be challenging to completely eradicate the parasite from a dog’s body. An antibiotic course of four weeks is used as treatment to get rid of the bacterium. If treatment is not successful, the organism may result in lifelong illness, long-term physical harm to your dog’s health, and recurrent symptoms.


Preventing the tick from infecting your pet is the first step in guarding against lyme disease in that animal. The most important factor in preventing the disease is a high-quality flea and tick preventive. Pick a product that deters ticks or immediately kills the bug. Ticks may still attach despite precautions. Every day, give your dog’s coat a thorough inspection and personally remove any ticks you find there.

Lyme disease is not a zoonotic disease, which means it cannot be transmitted from animal to person. However, pets may carry ticks with unknown attachments into your home. This gives the tick a chance to crawl off your pet and onto you, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get lyme disease from the tick.

Canine Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis

A rickettsial disease called ehlichiosis is mostly transmitted by the bite of lone star ticks. The illness affects both humans and pets.

Fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, bleeding signs, and lameness are a few acute nonspecific symptoms. The chronic symptoms of ehrlichia are comparable to the acute symptoms, but they are typically more severe and come with a few more signs and symptoms include weakness, weight loss, and joint swelling. Acute symptoms of canine granulocytic ehrlichiosis may appear 1 to 3 weeks after the animal has been exposed to the disease. However, it could take up to a year for clinical symptoms to manifest. After being exposed to the disease, some pets might never exhibit any signs.

The only way to diagnose the disease might be to look for signs. A 4dx test and bloodwork are also utilized to provide a more precise diagnosis. The prognosis of this infection is favourable if it is detected in its early stages. If detected too late, it may be fatal or result in an infection that persists despite treatment.

Similar to lyme disease, ehrlichiosis is treated with antibiotics. Many animals recover from the infection untreated and without any lasting damage. However, yearly 4dx tests after that may still come back positive, indicating exposure but not necessarily active disease.

Sadly, there is no known vaccination to protect against ehrlichiosis. This underscores the significance of your monthly flea and tick check.


Lethargy, lameness, neck pain, belly and gum bruises, as well as neurological symptoms, are warning signs of a potential anaplasmosis infection. While the majority of animals may not exhibit any signs, some animals may do so for up to seven days. Lameness and joint stiffness are the most common warning indications that would alarm you as the owner.

Similar to Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease, the only way to diagnose this illness is to look for symptoms. A 4dx test and bloodwork are also utilized to provide a more precise diagnosis. The prognosis of this infection is favourable if it is detected in its early stages.

Anaplasma treatment is comparable to that for the other two tick-borne illnesses described. Many animals recover from the infection untreated and without any lasting damage. However, yearly 4dx tests after that may still come back positive, indicating exposure but not necessarily active disease.

Anaplasmosis in pets cannot be prevented by vaccination, similar to ehrlichia, hence regular use of a flea and tick preventative is advised.

Overall tick prevention:

  • monthly prevention for ticks and fleas. Tick prevention is made easier with the help of products like Bravecto and Activyl, which also protect against fleas.
  • Annual 4dx testing for your pet is recommended. This test checks for ehrlichia, anaplasma, heartworms, and lyme disease.
  • After a negative 4dx test, vaccinate your pet with the annual lyme vaccine to prevent lyme disease (only recommend for certain lifestyles.)
  • Check for ticks after your pet has been outdoors frequently, especially during the warmer months.

The steps to remove a tick from your pet are provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Please go to the following website: www.cdc.gov/ticks/removing a tick.html.

Can a dog become sick from a tick?

A blacklegged tick can carry the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, which can cause Lyme disease in dogs. When sick, dogs may develop a temperature and develop one or more joint lamenesses. Additionally, they could appear lethargic, and their lymph nodes might enlarge.

Can a dog’s behavior be altered by ticks?

Your placid, amiable dog may have Lyme disease if you observe that she suddenly becomes meaner and more easily irritated.

Deer ticks can transmit the dangerous illness Lyme disease to dogs, which can lead to behavioral changes in dogs like irritation and aggression as well as other health problems.

According to VetInfo, the Lyme disease-causing bacteria infects your dog after around 24 hours. The source advised doing a tick check on him as soon as possible because of this. Fortunately, neurological issues are not necessarily a result of Lyme disease. Your dog is more likely to have joint inflammation, high fever, appetite loss, and enlarged lymph nodes if infected with the bacteria, according to PetMD.

According to VetInfo, however, Lyme illness can occasionally be the cause of seizures, depression, confusion, overeating, and aggression. Because some of the more prevalent symptoms are similar to those of other disorders, the condition can occasionally be challenging to identify.

What types of illnesses can ticks transmit to dogs?

Tick-borne illnesses are a very real and serious health risk for dogs all throughout the US. These illnesses’ symptoms can be very unpleasant and completely sap your dog’s energy. Our Tucson veterinarians go into greater detail about how diseases spread by ticks could impact your dog below.

Ticks & Your Dog’s Health

Numerous diseases transmitted by ticks pose a severe threat to the health of people and animals throughout the US. Each year, these infections affect tens of thousands of pets across North America and can cause some extremely serious symptoms. Tick-borne illnesses can occasionally even be lethal or life-threatening.

Additionally, a single bite from an infected tick can transmit many organisms to your dog, allowing them to collaborate to produce toxins and activate their immune systems. These microorganisms have the ability to enter your dog’s cells and alter their immune system, which frequently causes recurrent or chronic infections.

  • The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi causes the illness known as Lyme disease, which can affect both humans and dogs. Dogs can contract this pathogen from infected black-legged ticks or deer ticks. Lameness, fever, joint pain or swelling, enlargement of the lymph nodes, and lethargic behavior are just a few of the signs of Lyme disease in dogs. Dogs with Lyme disease can be properly treated, but Lyme in humans can be far more serious.
  • Although canine bartonellosis is less frequent than certain other tick-borne diseases that affect dogs, it is nevertheless important to be aware of it because its symptoms can be very serious. Early signs of Bartonellosis include sporadic fever and lameness, but if the illness is not treated, it can cause liver or heart damage. People can contract the illness that is spread by ticks.

Rickettsial Diseases

Ticks can also spread Rickettsial organisms, which are tiny intracellular bacteria. A wide range of conditions in both canines and people are caused by ricketsial. It can be extremely difficult to diagnose certain disorders. Before the root of your dog’s issues may be identified, several tests or rounds of treatment can be required.

Canine Anaplasmosis (Dog Tick Fever)

  • In dogs, stiff joints, fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting are the most typical signs of anaplasmosis. Seizures may occur in severe cases of this tick-borne illness.

Canine Ehrlichiosis

  • Canine Ehrlichiosis symptoms typically begin to show between one and three weeks after your dog contracts the infection. Parents of pets should keep an eye out for the symptoms of this illness, which include fever, decreased appetite, bruises, and nosebleeds. For dogs with Ehrlichiosis, early detection and treatment are crucial to preventing chronic illness.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

  • In dogs throughout Central, South, and North America, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) is a disease transmitted by ticks. Some of the most prevalent signs of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs include joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, decreased appetite, and fever. This illness can also cause neurological signs in certain dogs, such as weakness or balance problems.

Protozoal Diseases

The protozoal intracellular parasite carried by ticks and capable of thriving in your dog’s red blood cells is the source of protozoal illnesses. Canine babesiosis and hepatozoonosis are two of the most prevalent protozoal infections transmitted by ticks that affect dogs in the US.

Canine Babesiosis

  • Canine Babesiosis is most commonly transmitted by the bite of an infected tick; however, it can also be carried via the bite of an infected dog, tainted IV blood, or transplacentally from a pregnant mother to her unborn puppies. The red blood cells in your dog’s body begin to break down as a result of this tick-borne disease, causing symptoms like jaundice, pale gums, lethargy, black urine, and, in rare cases, vomiting and weakness.

Canine Hepatozoonosis

  • Canine Hepatozoonosis can be transmitted by ticks, but it can also infect your dog if it eats an infected bird or rodent. While many infected dogs exhibit no symptoms of this illness, some experience unpleasant symptoms such muscle, bone, and/or joint pain that can seriously impair their mobility. Fever, pale gums and skin, as well as swollen lymph nodes, are further signs of canine hepatozoonosis.

Treatment for Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs

Broad-spectrum antibiotics are often used to treat canines with infections transmitted by ticks. While your dog is receiving antibiotic therapy, probiotics may also be advised to help prevent digestive problems. Chronic tick-borne illnesses can be particularly difficult to treat. Regular blood testing may be advised even after your dog seems to be recovering to help detect recurrences early so that therapy can stop the problem from getting worse.

Please take note that the information in this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice for animals. Please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for a precise diagnosis of your pet’s illness.