Temperatures are rising - making way for beach trips, park dates, and pet parties with your beloved furry friends.
But amongst all these fun trips comes along an absolutely unwanted member – ticks.
And with tick bites come tick fever.
What is Tick Fever?
Tick fever is a contagious disease, commonly spread among dogs, through an infected tick bite. Although prevalent in cats as well, it is not as common as tick fever in dogs.
Tick fever is caused by different species across the world, and is also known by different names such as Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Ehrlichiosis. In India, the most common canine tick fever is Babesiosis, caused by the tick species - Babesia canis and babesia gibsoni.
Once an infected tick bites a dog, the disease is spread. The dog need not have a major tick infestation for this to occur. A single tick bite can cause the disease if the tick is a carrier of the disease.
The disease is then spread once the tick comes in contact with other dogs, which usually happens during dog walks, pet socialization, or any instance where the dog comes in contact with another furry animal, making it important to groom your dog daily for regular tick checks.
The disease is termed to be contagious as it can be spread if an infected dog bites another dog (and rarely even a human). An infected mother dog can unknowingly pass it on to her litter while in the uterus. A tick infestation can also lead to this disease, once the ticks bite the infected dog, and then spread to the other animals. This is why preventive measures are that much more important.
How Do I Know If My Dog Is Infected With Tick Fever?
The most common tell-tale sign is fatigue, and disinterest in their usual routine. These are common symptoms of most diseases among dogs, so it is always recommended to keep a track of your dog’s behaviour. A major change in their routine is usually a sign of an illness.
Another common symptom is developing a fever. Their temperature will be high for a while, after which if the infection continues to develop, the temperature will be lower than their regular body temperature.
The infection develops differently for every dog, and thus the symptoms will also vary for each infection. However, if you do notice the following symptoms, your dog needs a veterinary consultation immediately –
Loss of appetite
Difficulty in breathing
Difficulty in movement (due to joint pain or swollen lymph nodes)
Abnormal nasal discharge
While this is not an exhaustive list, these are the symptoms that have been commonly noted in tick fever infections. When it comes to the health of your furry friend, always err on the side of caution. If you feel that something is not right with your pet, book a veterinary consultation.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Tick Fever:
Tick fever can only be diagnosed through a blood test, so make sure you ask your veterinary doctor to take a blood test on your pet. Early diagnosis of this disease can help prevent any complications that may arise in the later stages.
A physical examination alone cannot be trusted because the symptoms can be of any disease. Misdiagnosis can be fatal for your dogs, as a steroid medication to treat swollen limbs can react negatively with the tick infection, leading to shock and even death.
Similarly, the presence of ticks alone cannot lead to tick fever. Your dog might have a tick infestation but need not necessarily carry an infected tick. Being treated for tick fever unnecessarily can also prove to be fatal.
Keeping this in mind, make sure you ask for a blood test for your dog, so that you know for a fact whether your pet has tick fever or not, and the treatment can be done accordingly.
Treatment for tick fever usually involves anti-biotics, and an IV administration if the infection is severe, and has led to anaemia in your dog. The medications usually should be taken for 21 days, after which the dog needs to be tested again to check if the infection has been completely cleared off.
A relapse is a common occurrence in the first 2 months after the infection, so make sure you follow stringent tick preventive measures. Follow up with your doctor if you have any questions and constantly monitor your dog’s health and behaviour.
It is also strongly advised to stay clear of any home remedies for tick fever. Mistreatment of this disease can be fatal for your dogs. If you’re not sure whether your dog is infected or not, book an online veterinary consultation.
How Can I Prevent Tick Fever?
An unhygienic environment or frequent socializing with unvaccinated dogs can lead to a tick and flea infestation. Regular grooming, controlled socializing, and cleaning their kennel should keep ticks away.
Although not very common, tick fever can be spread to humans with low or compromised immunity. Thus, it is in everybody’s best interest to keep your environment clean and tick-free. Getting rid of a tick infestation is much more tiresome than preventing it.
Tick fever is a serious illness for dogs and humans. Prevention is a better option rather than having to go through a painful diagnosis. Regular veterinary visits can also help tackle serious illnesses, and with the availability of online veterinary consultations, these can be done easily and on time.
You can read all about online veterinary consultations in this post.