Pet parents will learn about a common disease among dogs: ticks. What are ticks? They are “binding ectoparasites” that spend their entire life cycle on a host. They are found all over the world and can cause a lot of damage.
According to Dr Lalit Kenjle and Dr Aishwarya, Veterinary Officers of Wiggles, most infectious diseases present today usually result from zoonotic pathogens that are often transmitted by tick vectors. “Rhipicephalus and haemaphysalis are the most common types of ticks found in India,” he says.
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What should pet parents know about ticks and the symptoms of tick fever?
According to doctors, ticks infest cracks and crevices in the home and end up on the dog’s skin. “Once they attach themselves to the host, they multiply and cause many protozoal infections through bites. Some of the key symptoms are extensive erythrocytic lysis – a process by which red blood cells are broken down, causing Anemia, jaundice and hemoglobinuria (hemoglobin in the urine) occur. The symptoms of infection gradually become severe depending on the dog’s immune system,” he cautions.
Doctors say that in the short term, dogs develop:
– Swelling of lymph nodes throughout the body
– enlargement of the spleen
– Decrease in the number of platelets in the bloodstream
Other symptoms include:
– loss of appetite
– loss of stamina
– reluctance to walk
– Swelling in the limbs or scrotum
– difficulty in breathing
“Most short-term cases are seen in the warmer months when ticks are most active. During this phase, the chance of death is very low and the infected dog may recover on its own,” the vet says.
What are chronic infections?
Even after they have recovered, there is still a chance that dogs can develop long-term illnesses, the signs and symptoms of which depend on which organs are affected, eg,
, enlargement of the spleen
, kidney failure
, inflammation of the lungs, eyes, brain, and spinal cord
“If the brain and spinal cord are involved, there can be problems with the nervous system, such as lack of coordination, depression, partial paralysis, and increased sensitivity to a generally painless touch,” the expert explains.
Other symptoms, he says, are:
*Severe weight loss during tick infestation
* Abnormally low levels of platelets or other blood cells, which means blood clots more slowly causing nosebleeds, blood in urine or stools, or unusual bruising on their skin or gums
detection and prevention
According to veterinarians, laboratory tests such as blood smear tests, blood tests and molecular diagnostics can be done in the form of PCR to identify tick infection. Tick fever, he says, can be treated with antibiotics like tetracycline and especially doxycycline. “To treat anemia, blood transfusions or other supportive fluid therapies may be recommended.”
As a pet parent, you can prevent your dog from developing tick fever by:
1. Keeping them away from grass and damp areas.
2. Using preventive medications such as ticks and fleas spot-on.
3. Any ticks found on your dog should be removed promptly and properly using tweezers.
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