How Ticks Affect Dogs
There is no breed, age or gender predisposition to tick infestation. Affected dogs may show no signs or may exhibit signs of irritation at the bite site including redness, inflammation, chewing, scratching and self-trauma. Many tick species have adapted to suppress the host animal’s response, making their bites relatively painless. The more serious effects of tick bites are systemic illness from tick-borne infectious microorganisms, hypersensitivity reactions, neurotoxins in tick saliva that cause “tick paralysis” and anemia from blood loss.
Symptoms of Ticks in Dogs
Ticks often cause symptoms on the skin which cause owners to take a close look at the cause of the symptoms. Once ticks latch onto the skin, they can cause severe itchiness in addition to red and inflamed skin. Dogs which are allergic to ticks may have especially severe skin itch and inflammation symptoms. Pet owners may also notice ticks on their dog once the tick becomes bloated after feeding on the dog and large enough to see.
Reactions to tick bites may also cause internal symptoms to develop. Many dogs experience mild to high fevers, loss of appetite, pain, lethargy, and depression as a reaction to tick bites. These symptoms may last as short as 24 hours or continue for days to weeks.
Ticks may also transmit blood borne disease they are carrying once they have been latched and feeding onto a dog for more than 10 hours. These diseases can include tick paralysis, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and encephalitis. Tick paralysis causes instance lameness, and the dog may be unable to move and seem to be stuck in a coma or sleep. Tick diseases may also cause gastrointestinal illnesses, impair immune function, cause inflammation in the body, and lead to severe and life threatening anemia.