1. Heartworm Disease is spread by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites your dog, microfilarae takes about seven months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. They then lodge in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years, and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system.
2. Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that can affect humans, dogs, cats and other mammals. Its primary carrier is the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis), which often feeds on rodents in its early stages. Later, the tick can attach to a dog or human and transmit the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Clinical signs include depression, swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite and fever, as well as lameness and swollen, painful joints. Renal failure can also be a consequence of Lyme disease.
3. Erlichiosis is transmitted by an infected tick, which passes an ehrlichia organism into the bloodstream when it bites. There are three stages of ehrlichiosis, each varying in severity. The acute stage, occurring several weeks after infection and lasting for up to a month, can lead to fever and lowered peripheral blood cell counts due to bone marrow suppression. The second stage, called the subclinical phase, has no outward signs and can last for the remainder of the dog's life, during which the dog remains infected with the organism. Some dogs are able to successfully eliminate the disease during this time. In some dogs the third and most serious stage of infection, the chronic phase, will commence. Very low blood cell counts, bleeding, bacterial infection, lameness, neurological and ophthalmic disorders, and kidney disease can result. Chronic Ehrlichiosis can be fatal.
4. Anaplasmosis can come in two forms, an infection of the white blood cells that’s transmitted by the same ticks that transmit Lyme Disease, or an infection of the blood platelets that can lead to bleeding disorders and is transmitted by the brown dog tick. Although these two forms of anaplasmosis present with different signs, both pose a threat to your dog’s health. Symptoms can include loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness and reluctance to move, and neck pain or neurological signs.
You can help prevent tick-borne diseases by using Flea and Tick preventive, available at our offices any time. Call ahead and we’ll have it ready for you.
A simple blood test can help your veterinarian detect these diseases in your dog. If you haven’t been tested, please be sure to schedule an appointment. The Heartworm Test must be completed annually before renewing Heartworm preventive medication.