Dr. Phil Zeltzman’s Blog
Lyme disease is just the beginning…
Greetings from China, where I was invited to lecture!
If you own a dog, you surely have heard about Lyme disease. But are you aware that there are other diseases transmitted by ticks? Let’s review the 5 most common “tick-borne diseases” in dogs.
1. “Lyme” (and not Lyme’s) is a disease transmitted by ticks. It can cause limping and fever. A minority of dogs can get severe kidney disease, which can be life-threatening. Fortunately, Lyme disease can be treated successfully with the proper antibiotics. But Lyme is just one disease transmitted by ticks. Here are 4 other, lesser known diseases that are also transmitted by ticks.
2. Hemoplasma (Hemoplasmosis) Previously called Hemobartonellosis, this disease exists in cats and dogs. It it transmitted by ticks and occasionally by fleas. It cases anemia (low red blood cell count), especially in pets who have a weak immune system.
3. Bartonella (Bartonellosis) This disease can occur in cats and dogs after being bitten by fleas and occasionally by ticks. It can cause lameness, a stiff gait or heart disease in dogs.
4. Babesia (Babesiosis) This disease can occur in cats and dogs after being bitten by a tick… or a dog. It can cause anemia (low red blood cell count), a low platelet count and increased protein levels in the blood. It can rarely cause kidney disease.
5. Rickettsia (Rickettsiosis) Rickettsia is a type of bacteria, which can in fact include several types: Ehrlichia (Ehrlichiosis) or Anaplasms (Anaplasmosis). They can cause limping, fever, bleeding (because of a low platelet count), anemia (low red blood cell count).
What is frustrating with these diseases is that it can be difficult to diagnose them by testing the blood. In addition, it’s tough for the vet to decide if it should be treated with antibiotics or not. The reason is that many pets are “carriers” which have no symptoms at all. As always, the best way to avoid any of these diseases is prevention, which include serious tick (and flea) protection.
Please talk to your family vet about the best way to do that in YOUR area.
Until next time,
Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ