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Tick-borne Diseases

What You Need to Know to Protect Your Dog

When you think of ticks, is Lyme the first – and only – disease that comes to mind? While it is certainly cause for concern, especially in Minnesota, Lyme is only one of many illnesses your dog can contract. It’s also the most straightforward in dogs and easiest to treat. There are other far more serious tick-borne diseases to be aware of, and why diligent tick prevention is essential.

First things first, not all ticks are created equal. In fact, there are approximately a dozen different kinds in Minnesota alone. However, the ticks we usually come in contact with are American dog ticks (wood tick) and blacklegged ticks (deer ticks).

In Minnesota, these ticks can spread numerous tick-borne diseases to humans and dogs alike, such as:

  • Lyme disease
  • Anaplasmosis
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Babesiosis

There are also other tick-borne diseases in other parts of the country, including a new strain of Rikettsia.

The impact these diseases can have on dogs vary, but some can be serious and life-threatening. This makes vigilant tick prevention the best way to protect your dog from any complications.

Protecting Your Dog from Tick-Borne Diseases

The easiest way to protect your dog from ticks involves parasite preventatives, like monthly oral or topical medications. Talk to your vet to get their expert recommendations based on your dog’s exposure risks. This insight can help them offer personalized guidance on how to give your dog the highest level of protection possible.

Next, check your dog thoroughly for ticks throughout tick season, and don’t forget areas like in between their footpads and toes. If you discover a tick, remove it quickly to reduce the chance of infection. Dogs can cross paths with ticks anywhere in Minnesota but be especially diligent in checking them during outings where their exposure rates can be significantly higher, like camping or hiking.

Finally, learn to recognize the signs of tick-borne illness. In most cases, early diagnosis offers the best chance of successful treatment.

Symptoms of tick-borne diseases often include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling around the joints
  • Muscle pain
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin lesions
  • Seizures
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Weight loss

Unfortunately, there is no 100% effective way to protect your dog from tick-borne diseases. But taking these steps can give them the best chances of avoiding serious illness and long-term damage.

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