Can Dog Ticks and Fleas Transmit Diseases? Find Out More

As a fur parent, you must be aware of the potential dangers that ticks and fleas can pose to your dog. Both of these pests carry diseases that can be transmitted to your pet that are sometimes deadly.

In addition to fleas and ticks prevention, you should also be aware of the diseases they carry and how to spot the signs in your dog.

What Are Ticks and Fleas in Dogs?

Ticks are small, spider-like creatures attaching themselves to their host animal’s skin and feeding on their blood. You can usually see them in wooded or grassy areas, and they can be active all year long, depending on the climate. Ticks can transmit a number of severe diseases to both humans and animals.

Fleas are small wingless insects living off their host animal’s blood. They are most commonly found in homes with pets, as they will often hitch a ride into the house on your furry friend. Fleas can also transmit diseases to both humans and animals.

When fleas affect dogs, their immune system develops a hypersensitive response. Every time the flea bites, your dog’s skin is irritated, and they may scratch excessively, leading to hot spots, hair loss, and secondary infections. Also, ticks and fleas can transmit diseases that may cause internal medicine conditions to your dog.

What Diseases Can Ticks and Fleas Transmit to Dogs?

Ticks can transmit a number of diseases to dogs, including:

1. Lyme Disease

This is the most common tick-borne disease in both humans and animals in the United States. A bacteria known as Borrelia burgdorferi causes Lyme disease, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick.

Symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Joint pain
  • Lameness

If left untreated, Lyme disease can cause kidney failure and even death.

2. Ehrlichiosis

A bacteria called Ehrlichia canis causes ehrlichiosis, transmitted through an infected tick’s bite. Ehrlichiosis typically affects dogs who live in or travel to areas with a high density of ticks, such as the southeastern United States.

Symptoms of ehrlichiosis include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Bleeding disorders

If left untreated, ehrlichiosis can lead to organ failure and death.

3. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

RMSF is caused by a bacteria called Rickettsia rickettsii, transmitted through an infected tick’s bite. RMSF is most commonly found in the southeastern and south-central United States.

Symptoms of RMSF in dogs begin to appear 2 to 14 days after a tick bite and can be different and similar to other conditions. That’s why diagnosing this disease is pretty challenging for vets but knowing if and when your dog has been exposed to ticks helps with the diagnosis.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Poor appetite
  • Non-specific muscle pain
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the face or legs
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Pain
  • Eye/nose discharge
  • Nosebleed
  • Cough
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Lameness

Unfortunately, if not treated early enough, this disease can cause death in 1 to 10% of infected dogs.

4. Bartonellosis

A bacteria called Bartonella henselae causes bartonellosis, also known as cat scratch fever because it is often transmitted to humans through scratches or bites from infected cats. Symptoms of bartonellosis include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Skin lesions

Bartonellosis can lead to heart problems, neurological problems, and even death if left untreated. So, if you observe any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important to take them to the vet immediately.

5. Anaplasmosis

A bacteria called Anaplasma phagocytophilum causes anaplasmosis, transmitted through an infected tick’s bite. Anaplasmosis is most commonly found in the northeastern and upper Midwestern United States.

Symptoms of anaplasmosis include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Joint pain
  • Pale gums

Preventing Ticks and Fleas in Dogs

The following are tips for preventing ticks and fleas in dogs:

  • Inspect your dog for ticks and fleas every day, especially if they have been outside in areas where these insects are known to live.
  • Keep your yard clean and free of tall grass, weeds, and debris, which can provide a place for ticks and fleas to hide.
  • Use tick and flea preventives on your dog as directed by your veterinarian. Some different products are available, so be sure to ask your vet which one is right for your dog.
  • If you reside in a region where ticks are common, talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog against Lyme disease.
  • When you travel with your dog, check them for ticks and fleas upon returning home.

Keep in Mind

Ticks and fleas are nuisances that can transmit diseases to dogs and humans. Taking some preventive steps petcan help protect you from these harmful insects.

In addition to other vet concerns (such as dental health), you should not take these parasites for granted since they might cause great danger to your dogs.

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