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  • Writer's pictureKnollwood Hospital for Pets

Tick, tick, tick!

Wet weather = more tick disease in our pets

In the past week, we’ve identified more cases of tick disease than in all of last year. We’re now in our third critical year of high moisture, coupled with relatively mild winters, and the tick population is loving it! MOST of our positive-test dogs are carrying Erlichia. Because of its origin in military dogs in Vietnam, it has also been called tracker dog disease and tropical canine pancytopenia. Since it’s usually carried by the brown dog tick, it has since spread throughout the USA.

The signs of ehrlichiosis vary all over the place, from absolutely nothing (our last 2 cases were this type) to fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore joints, weight loss, bleeding, blindness, and trouble breathing.

A blood test diagnoses Erlichia and starting this year, we are including this in our routine heartworm tests - as well as Anaplasma and Lyme’s disease. Or, if you feel your pet is at high risk, if you’ve traveled outside of our area with your pet, or if you’ve seen ANY of the above symptoms, you can elect to run a full tick panel that screens for many more diseases.

Specific antibiotic treatment is the therapy of choice for non-symptomatic dogs. Dogs with any of the symptoms listed above receive this also, plus treatments appropriate to their other signs and symptoms. Not all serious symptoms can be resolved, however.

Applying flea and tick preventives are the most effective means of prevention. Topical options include Frontline Plus (given once per month). Oral chewable options include Nexgard (given monthly). This is equally safe but not as cost-effective as Frontline Plus. We do not recommend extended-duration products, until we see more large-scale safety studies comparable to the studies the above 2 products can show.

People get Ehrlichia, too. But not from your dog! The disease is only transmitted through the bites of ticks - and humans can get canine ehrlichiosis from tick bites. However, infected dogs serve as sentinels, or warnings to indicate the presence of infected ticks in the area. That’s why we have advised all clients, when we make those awful calls to tell them that yes, their dog was positive, to check with their own Doctors, let them know that their dog will be on medication and to ask what they should do for themselves.

Relative sizes of adult and juvenile ticks

Please, keep yourselves and your pets safe! Use appropriate protection for BOTH you and your pet. Assume that any brushy, grassy, or forested area very likely IS supporting a tick population. And check your pet from nose to tail after EVERY walk in any of these areas.

Questions? Concerns? Call us at 847-891-8944 and ask to speak to a Veterinary Nurse, or email us at We’ll reply same day if the office is open, and on our next available business day when we are closed.

Dr. M

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