Symptoms and treatment of tick disease in dogs


Lyme and babesiosis are very dangerous diseases transmitted by ticks to dogs and people, but there is nothing to worry about if the necessary care is taken

  • Author: By EVA SAN MARTÍN
  • Publication date: April 21, 2016

Ticks are dangerous for dogs and can be even mortal If they are not treated on time. He lyme and babesiosis They are two diseases that these parasites transmit to dogs, but they also affect people. How are these conditions? How to detect in time a lyme infection or babesiosis infected by the bite of a tick? These important questions are answered below. Also, remember that there is no need to worry if the necessary care is taken and it is known how to avoid and eliminate dog ticks.

"Ticks are unpleasant on their own, but they can also pose a threat to the health of our pets and families, since they transmit diseases and are only overcome by mosquitoes as a pest dangerous to health in the world," says veterinarian Richard Wall, creator of The Great Tick Project, an initiative born in 2015 that wants to study, raise awareness, inform and prevent the real dangers that these parasites pose to dogs.

How do I know if my dog ​​or I have lyme?

The Lyme's desease It is transmitted by the bite of a tick, a parasite that is especially active during spring and summer. It especially attacks dogs, but also humans, when it is infected by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi, something that happens between 1% and 10% of cases in Spain.

Dogs can be bitten by these insects while walking through a wooded area or through the park, both in rural and urban areas. In Spain, lyme appears in humid and warm areas of Basque Country, Cantabria, Navarra, Galicia, Asturias and La Rioja, although occasionally it can also be found in regions of Castilla y León and, further south, in mountainous and humid areas.

In the can you see the symptoms of lyme are vague and difficult to diagnose Lameness, apathy as well as fever are signs That they can have it. But the worst does not end here: if it is not acted on time and the disease evolves, the animal can suffer from kidney damage, serious neuronal problems and arthritis for years to even a fatal heart attack.

How to know if a person has lyme? Signs of the disease in humans include a red rash that grows circularly around the bite of the tick, followed by fever. Although this disease is not lethal to humans, it can be disabling if it is not stopped in time. One of the celebrities affected by lyme is singer Avril Lavigne, who had to leave the stage for a year because of the symptoms of this medical condition.

As to if dog ticks are transmitted to humans, all doubts are cleared here.

Ticks: increasingly dangerous and deadly for dogs

Veterinarian Richard Wall also warns that tick-borne diseases grow and are increasingly dangerous for dogs "because of factors linked to habitat modifications, rising temperatures and climate change."

In addition to Lyme disease, which can appear in many forms and cause neurological damage, including sclerosis, there are other dangerous conditions for the dog transmitted by ticks. One of them is the babesiosis, which can also prove deadly to dogs.

Like lyme, babesiosis is more dangerous for these pets during the hot months that characterize the first and summer. Its symptoms include fever, weakness, severe anemia, restlessness and weight loss in the dog.

How to avoid dog ticks and their diseases?

Removing ticks from the dog when they have already been bitten is unpleasant, dangerous and difficult. Therefore, protecting the animal and the homes of these parasites in spring and summer is essential.

Y what can be done? Here we explain eight ways to end the dog's ticks: from pipettes and tablets to aerosols and anti-tickle collars.

How to safely remove a tick

  1. Use fine-pointed tweezers, hold the tick as close to the surface of the skin as possible.
  2. Pull up with constant and uniform pressure. Do not twist or turn the tick. Its objective is to remove the entire tick, ideally in one piece, including the mouth pieces embedded under the skin.
  3. Wash the sting area and hands thoroughly with alcohol, a solution of iodine or soap and water.

Not all ticks are carriers of Lyme disease, so keep the tick to determine the variety (the CDC has a website to help with identification, visit

Tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease, are proliferating. The cases reported in the United States increased, from about 12,000 a year in 1995, to approximately 36,000 from 2013 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since the reported cases are only a fraction of the actual cases, the CDC believes that the true real number of infections is probably closer to 300,000.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) controls the products used to diagnose and treat this complex disease in humans. There are no authorized vaccines in the United States to help prevent Lyme disease in people.

Who gets Lyme disease and at what time of the year?

Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of infected ticks, which adhere to any part of the body, but more often to moist or hairy parts, such as the groin, armpits and scalp.

Although everyone is susceptible to tick bites, campers, hikers, and people who work in gardens and other leafy outdoor areas are at greater risk of suffering them. As many suburban gardeners can see, with the expansion of the suburbs and the pressure to conserve wooded areas, deer and mouse populations are also booming, providing ample blood supply to feed ticks. In order for Lyme disease to be transmitted, the tick needs to feed on the host for 24 to 48 hours.

In most cases, bites are reported in the summer months, when ticks are more active and people spend more time outdoors. But this can also extend to the still warm months of early fall, or even late winter if temperatures are unusually high. Likewise, a mild winter can allow ticks, like other insects, to develop and arise earlier than usual.

Symptoms and phases of Lyme disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease in its initial phase include:

  • muscle and joint pain
  • headache
  • fever
  • shaking chills
  • fatigue
  • swollen lymph nodes

Another common symptom of Lyme disease is a macular rash (called "erythema migrans"). Up to 80 percent of infected people can manifest a rash, and about 20 of the time it looks like a "target of fire."

If left untreated, the infection can spread to the joints, the heart and the nervous system.

The symptoms of the advanced phase may not occur until weeks or months after the bite of a tick, including:

  • heart rhythm irregularities
  • arthritis (usually in the form of pain and inflammation of the large joints, especially that of the knee)
  • nervous system abnormalities

Permanent damage to the joints or nervous system can occur in patients with advanced Lyme disease. Rarely, if any, is fatal.

Lyme disease screening and treatment test

If you think you may have Lyme disease, see your doctor immediately.

Your doctor can do a Lyme disease screening test. The FDA regulates diagnostic tests to ensure they are safe and effective. It is important to know that blood tests that detect antibodies (produced by the body to fight infection) that respond to the bacteria that cause Lyme disease are not useful if done shortly after a tick bite. It usually takes 2 to 5 weeks after a sting for the first antibodies to appear.

For this reason, the doctor may recommend antibiotic treatment before completing diagnostic tests. According to the CDC, patients treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of Lyme disease usually recover quickly and completely.

What precautions can I take against tick bites?

  • Avoid wooded or grassy areas and thickets, especially in May, June and July.
  • Wear light colored clothes so you can see the ticks that are on.
  • Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, as well as shoes that cover the entire foot.
  • Relax your pants in socks or socks, or shoes, and your shirt in your pants.
  • Wear a hat as additional protection.
  • Spray an insect repellent containing DEET on bare clothing and skin.
  • Walk through the center of the paths to avoid bushes and grass.
  • Take off your clothes, and wash and dry it at a high temperature after being outdoors.
  • Carefully examine the body for ticks after outdoor activities.

Lyme disease in dogs and other pets

Pets can also get Lyme disease. Typical symptoms in animals include: inflamed and limp joints, fever and loss of appetite. Experts from the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) say that dogs that have Lyme disease sometimes have severe kidney failure that can be fatal.

There are ways you can reduce the risk of your pet suffering from tick bites and Lyme disease. Periodically examining pets for ticks of all kinds, for example, reduces the risk of infection for both the pet and its master. Do not allow your dog to wander through tick-infested areas.

Topical or oral products, or in collars, are also very important to prevent Lyme disease in dogs.

There are two basic types of Lyme disease vaccines for dogs. Talk to your veterinarian to see if vaccination is appropriate for your dog. There is no vaccine for cats, which seem not to be susceptible to the disease.

This article is available on the FDA Consumer Articles page, where the latest news about all FDA regulated products is published.

The tick bite in dogs

Ticks are about hematophagous parasites, which means they feed on blood. To achieve it, they not only bite the dog, but remain anchored to him for hours, until they are completely filled with blood. It is during that time that the transmission of tick disease occurs in dogs and happens when it is carry a parasite inside That will happen to the dog's blood.

Sometimes, some ticks contain a toxic in your saliva that causes what is called tick paralysis. In this ailment weakness occurs and, as its name indicates, paralysis, which progresses to cause a respiratory arrest.

Next we will detail diseases that dogs can get from ticks. Its severity helps us understand the importance of establishing and maintaining an adequate deworming schedule.

Tick ​​diseases in dogs

The diseases that transmit ticks to dogs are the following:

In general, it is about serious ailments that can potentially have fatal consequences. The symptoms of these diseases are nonspecific. We will see them in more detail in the following sections. Any of these signs is veterinary consultation reason.

Rocky Mountain Fever

This fever is one of the diseases of the tick in dogs that cause rickettsia, which are parasites the size of bacteria that necessarily live inside the cells. It is a zoonosis, that is, it is transmissible to humans. There are usually more cases coinciding with the season of greatest expansion of the tick. His symptoms include apathy, fever, anorexia, cough, conjunctivitis, respiratory problems, swelling of the legs, joint and muscle aches, unstable gait, seizures or arrhythmias. Some dogs also suffer bleeding and may have blood in their urine and feces.


This tick disease in dogs is due to bacteria of the anaplasma genus, which are parasites that must obligatorily live inside the blood cells. It is also a zoonosis. The signs that alert us to their presence are quite nonspecific, that is, they are common to numerous diseases. Include fever, lethargy, anorexia, lameness, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, uncoordination, seizures, anemia, enlarged lymph nodes, mucous paleness, cough, uveitis, edema, etc.

Erylchiosis or canine ehrlichiosis

It is a tick disease in dogs caused by the heirloom, which is a rickettsia. The clinical picture develops in three phases. The acute phase is characterized by fever, depression, anorexia, panting and enlarged lymph nodes. Symptoms compatible with encephalitis also appear in some dogs. After this phase the subclinical one is passed. In this period some dogs will be able to eliminate the infestation while others evolve into a chronic phase, already between 1 month and 4 after the bite. At this time the prominent symptoms are thinning, fever, anemia, nosebleeds, inflammation of joints and a neurological picture.


Babesia is the protozoan that causes this tick disease in dogs that is characterized by the appearance of hemolytic anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells. This process, if it fails to stop, can lead the animal to death. Other symptoms are fever, exercise intolerance, blood in the urine, jaundice or pale mucous membranes. There will also be an increase in the size of the spleen and liver.

Lyme disease or borreliosis

This tick disease in dogs is caused by the spirochete bacteria called borrelia. It is more frequent in the high season of ticks. The onset of this pathology is a limp. There may also be inflammation in the joints, fever, weakness, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss and kidney problems.


Hepatozoonosis is another disease of the tick in dogs caused by protozoa. It mainly affects animals that were already weakened by some other circumstance. Among its symptoms we find diarrhea, which may contain blood, bone and muscle pain, which makes the dog do not want to move, both ocular and nasal secretion or thinning.

How to cure tick disease in dogs?

The treatment of all these diseases is usually intensive and includes supportive therapies, corticosteroids to stop hemolytic anemia, antibiotics or specific drugs against the causative parasites. Although the cure is possible, we insist on the importance of prevention, because there are many dogs that, unfortunately, will not overcome the disease. Hepatozoonosis is treated with antiprotozoals but there is no cure.

In any case, at treatment prescribed by the veterinarian It is essential to add antiparasitic, which we must administer throughout the year. Also, if we walk through areas where there may be ticks, we will check the dog when you get home in case you have any attached. Taking them out quickly will prevent the transmission of any of these diseases.

Is tick disease contagious in dogs?

The diseases that we have mentioned they are not transmitted between dogs but if one has ticks, it is likely that the animals that surround him are also likely to be bitten by these parasitesThat is why we must apply deworming products to all the animals that live together, including cats.

If our question is whether tick disease in dogs is spread to humans, the answer is the same as in the previous case. The dog does not transmit the disease to people directly, but ticks can bite humans and infect them.

That is why we insist, once again, on the control of these diseases in the simplest way, which is the deworming of domestic animals to avoid the extension of the tick population.

This article is purely informative, at we have no power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian in case he presents any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Tick ​​disease in dogs - Symptoms and treatment, we recommend that you enter our section of parasitic diseases.

What is Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection transmitted by deer ticks. The disease can be transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. If left untreated, the disease can cause several health problems. However, if diagnosed early and with the administration of antibiotics, Lyme disease can be cured quickly and completely.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

The initial symptoms of Lyme disease can be mild and are often ignored. If you feel that a tick has stuck to your skin, remove the tick with tweezers and see if Lyme disease symptoms appear. Between 60 and 80 percent of cases, the first symptom is a rash known as migratory erythema that:

  • It occurs at or near the place of the tick bite.
  • It is a solid red "porthole" rash that gets bigger.
  • It appears within the first three days to a month after the tick bite.
  • It has a diameter of 2 to 6 inches.
  • Lasts 3 to 5 weeks.
  • When touched, it may be hot or not.
  • Normally, it does not cause pain or itching.
  • Multiple eruptions may appear.

Ticks stick anywhere, but prefer the folds of the body, including the armpits, the groin, the back of the knee and the neck. If it has been infected, the rash will most likely appear in one of these areas.

When the rash appears, other symptoms may also appear, such as joint pain, chills, fever and tiredness, but they may be too light for medical attention.

As it evolves, Lyme disease can cause severe tiredness, stiff and painful neck, tingling or numbness of the arms and legs or facial paralysis.

The most severe symptoms of Lyme disease do not appear for weeks, months or years after the tick bite. These symptoms may include severe headaches, painful arthritis and swelling of the joints, and heart and central nervous system problems.

How is Lyme disease diagnosed?

If you think you have Lyme disease, you should see your health care provider immediately. The early diagnosis of Lyme disease can only be made based on the symptoms and history of possible exposure to the tick. Blood tests done during the first month after the tick bite give false results.

How is Lyme disease treated?

Early treatment of Lyme disease includes the administration of antibiotics and almost always produces the complete cure. However, if the treatment is delayed, the possibility of a complete cure is diminished.

In a small number of cases, Lyme disease can become a chronic disease. However, some patients have indicated a slight improvement and even the disappearance of symptoms, months or even years after treatment.

How can I protect myself against ticks and prevent Lyme disease?

Deer ticks live in dark and humid areas at ground level. They adhere to tall grasses, weeds and shrubs, but usually not more than 18 to 24 inches from the ground. Ticks also live in grass and gardens, particularly at the edges of forests and around ancient stone walls.

Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and cannot fall on people or animals. They are only subject to humans and animals by direct contact. Once the tick sticks to the skin, it usually climbs until it reaches a protected area.

In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf debris and vegetation. However, if you work in your garden, go for outdoor walks, go camping, hunting, work or spend time outdoors, you can protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Wearing soft colored clothes with a tight fabric to see ticks easily.
  • Wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirt and closed shoes. Put the end of the pants inside the socks or boots, and the shirt inside the pants.
  • Frequently checking the presence of ticks on clothes and bare skin while outdoors.
  • Considering the use of insect repellent.
  • Remaining on clear and marked roads. Avoiding contact with vegetation.
  • Avoiding sitting directly on the ground or stone walls.
  • Tying back long hair, particularly when working in the garden.
  • Looking carefully throughout the body at the end of the day in case any tick adhered (Also observe children and pets), and withdraw them as soon as possible.


The two forms of tick disease still have no vaccine, so the best way to prevent is to keep ticks away from your dog.

You should always deworm the environment where he lives, keep the garden lawn always short and deworm the dog with sprays, baths, talcs and anti-parasite collars.

The best prevention is to keep dogs in clean places and away from contact with ticks. The use of ticks in the environment in which they live or even the use of "pour on" ticks, which can be applied directly to animals, may be necessary to keep your friend safe.

The symptoms of the two diseases are very similar, including:

- Pale or yellowish mucous membranes,

- Weightloss,

- Lack of appetite,

What do ticks look like?

The two most common types of ticks are dog ticks and deer ticks. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme disease. Dog ticks can transmit the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. As far as is known, dog ticks have never transmitted Lyme disease.

Enlarged view Tick
deer female

Female deer ticks They have 4 pairs of legs and are red and black, while the males are black. Young deer ticks are light brown and are the size of poppy seeds and are very difficult to detect. Adult deer ticks are only the size of a sesame seed - still very small.

Ticks of
real size deer

Enlarged view Ticks
of dog, male and female

Dog ticks They are the most common type of tick, and can be as large as a small pea when feeding. These types of ticks have 4 pairs of legs, are reddish brown and are easier to detect. Most dog ticks turn gray while feeding. Ticks can be found year-round, but they are more active in the spring, at the beginning of summer and fall when the weather is hot and humid.

Dog tick Real size

And about insect repellents?

Two active ingredients found in repellents are DEET (the label can say N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and permethrin. Permethrin is used only in clothing. Repellents containing DEET can come in different concentrations, with percentages as low as 5 percent or as high as 100 percent. In general, the greater the concentration, the greater the protection, but the risk of negative health effects also increases. Use the lowest concentration you create will give you the protection you need. The New York State Department of Health recommends that the following precautions be taken when using repellents containing DEET:

  • Before applying them, keep them out of the reach of children and read all the instructions on the label.
  • Do not let children apply repellent to themselves.
  • DO NOT apply repellent directly to children. Put it in your hands and then apply it to the child.
  • When applying repellent, avoid the face and hands of children.
  • DO NOT apply repellent on skin damaged by sunburn, cuts, abrasions or other conditions such as Psoriasis.
  • Avoid prolonged and excessive use of DEET.
  • DO NOT apply repellents in enclosed areas.
  • DO NOT apply directly to face.
  • DO NOT apply near eyes, nose or mouth.
  • When returning to covered enclosures, wash treated skin and clothing.
  • If you believe that you or a child has an adverse reaction to a repellent containing DEET, wash the treated area immediately and contact your local health care provider or local poison control center.

Consider also these Important Facts:

  • If you put the pants inside the socks and the shirts inside the pants, keep in mind that ticks will climb into hidden areas of the head and neck, therefore observe the clothing frequently.
  • Clothes should be sprayed with DEET or permethrin. Follow the instructions on the label carefully.
  • Upon returning home, the clothes should be put in the dryer at high temperature for 20 minutes to kill the ticks that have not been seen. It is possible that if you take a shower and wash your hair with shampoo, it helps you to dislodge the ticks that might creep, but this is not always effective.
  • All contact with vegetation, even if it is to play in the garden, can expose you to ticks. Frequent reviews of the presence of ticks should be followed by a full-body exam and removal of ticks that are found every night. This is the only most effective method for the prevention of Lyme disease.

How can you remove a tick safely?

If you find that a tick has attached to your skin, do not be alarmed. Not all ticks are infected and your risk of getting Lyme disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within the first 36 hours.

To remove the tick:

  • Use pointed tweezers to hold the tick by the head or mouth cavity where it enters the skin. DO NOT hold the tick by the body.
  • Without shaking it, pull firmly and constantly out. DO NOT twist the tick.
  • To kill it, put the tick in a small container containing rubbing alcohol.
  • Clean the sting wound with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Observe the place of the bite in case a rash appears for the next 30 days. If you develop a rash or flu symptoms, contact your healthcare provider immediately.


To achieve complete healing of the animal it is essential to do the treatment as soon as the symptoms appear, so it is very important to take it to the veterinarian as soon as you notice any change in his behavior.

Babesiosis is treated with piroplasmicides, which destroy the parasite. Other complications may arise from the disease, and then each one must be treated separately.

Elychiosis is treated with antibiotics and other medications. Treatment with serum and blood transfusion may also be necessary.

To protect your dog's immune system, always give him a lot of love and affection, clean and fresh water at his will and a dog food made with top quality ingredients and suitable for his age and size.

Max offers a complete line of dog food of all ages and sizes. Know the options and choose the most suitable food for your puppy.