July 16, 2018
Health & Fitness
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Don’t Let Your Pet Be Ticked Off By Ticks

Dr. Christine Calvert
View Bio
June 12, 2018

It is finally spring, or maybe we went straight to summer? The warm weather is here and the ticks are as happy about it as we are. Although tick prevention is recommended year-round, now is the time we often see plenty of these tiny pests. Don’t let your pet be bothered by ticks, and prevent the three main tick-borne diseases that we see in our area.

Lyme disease is the most commonly known tick-borne disease that affects people and their pets. A spirochete bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi is transmitted by the deer tick and can cause classic symptoms that include fever, lethargy, aching joints and even neurologic symptoms. Often, these early, non-specific signs can go unnoticed, allowing this disease to advance and lead to kidney disease in dogs. Once this pesky bacteria forms immune complexes in your dog’s kidneys, the damage is irreversible and cannot be treated.

Early diagnosis and treatment is key! A simple blood test (4DX test) provides accurate results within 10 minutes to determine if your pet has been exposed to any of these tick-borne illnesses. A Lyme C6 test may be needed to confirm active infection versus recent exposure. Keep in mind that it can take four to six weeks from the time of a tick bite for the body to develop antibodies and show a positive test result.

Ehrlichiosis is also a bacteria that is transmitted by the Lone Star tick and the deer tick. Symptoms can be similar to Lyme disease, including lethargy, fever and aches. With Ehrlichia canis infections, pets often have small bruises noted on their belly, lips or gums, or they may also have facial swelling. The 4DX test will also screen your pet for the two common strains of Ehrlichiosis. In some cases, additional lab work to check the red and white blood cell counts is needed to determine if there is an active infection prior to treatment with antibiotics.

Anaplasmosis is a bacteria with transmission from the deer tick and the western black-legged tick. This disease is similar to Lyme disease and is characterized by fever, lethargy and decreased appetite. Treatment with oral antibiotics is needed if the 4DX test is positive and your pet is symptomatic.

Because all of these diseases can be difficult to detect, it is important to test early and often. The 4DX test will screen your pet for Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis and heartworm disease. Early diagnosis and treatment of these diseases is important to protect your pet. Preventative measures, such as vaccines to prevent Lyme disease and quick-acting flea and tick preventatives like Nexgard (oral) or Frontline Gold (topical), can kill the ticks before they have time to transmit disease to your pet.
If you find a tick on your pet, the tick can be saved in a plastic Ziploc bag and sent to a laboratory for PCR testing to determine if it carries one of the tick-borne diseases. If you find a tick on your pet, www.tickencounter.org/tick_indentification is a great resource to help you identify the type of tick, which can help your veterinarian know what diseases need to be considered.

The doctors at Calvert Veterinary Center have more than 30 years of combined experience treating all types of pets for many ailments. Call 410-360-PAWS (7297) for an appointment or schedule an online visit at www.calvertvet.com. Calvert Veterinary Center is conveniently located at 4100 Mountain Road, and has been proudly serving the Pasadena community for more than 14 years.

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