Brown dog ticks are reddish-brown in color with flat bodies and eight segmented legs. While they do not carry Lyme disease like the better-known deer ticks, they do spread a number of other serious diseases. If you find one of these pests clinging onto your dog, make sure you keep an eye out for symptoms of these two diseases.
The symptoms of canine ehrlichiosis may not appear until months after your dog has been bitten by a brown dog tick, but they tend to be pretty severe and pronounced. Common symptoms include
- Loss of appetite
- Dramatic weight loss
- Runny eyes and nose
- Nose bleeds
- Swelling in the limbs
Canine ehrlichiosis is caused by three species of bacteria: Ehrlichia canis, E. chaffeensis, and E. ewingii. If you suspect your pet may have this illness, a vet can run a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment generally involves administering an antibiotic called doxycycline for several weeks, as well as administering intravenous fluid to keep the dog hydrated. Most dogs do survive and recover if treated properly, but it's important to seek veterinary care at the first sign of symptoms.
Canine babesiosis is actually a parasitic infection. When the dog is bitten by an infected brown dog tick, the tick can pass along a parasite known as babesia. The symptoms often appear within a few days of the tick bite, though sometimes they can take a few weeks to become pronounced enough that they are noticeable. Symptoms include
- Lack of energy
- An enlarged abdomen
- Yellow or orange skin
- Discolored stool
- Weight loss
- Pale gums
Diagnosing babesiosis is not always easy, and your vet may need to conduct several tests including a blood chemical profile, urinalysis, and a complete physical exam in order to confirm that your dog's symptoms are due to babesiosis. There is no actual treatment for babesiosis, but measures will be taken to help ease your dog's symptoms as his or her body fights off the parasite. With supportive therapy like IV fluids and blood transfusions, most dogs recover.
A bite by a brown dog tick does not always mean that your dog will become infected. The sooner you remove the tick with tweezers, the lower the risk of disease being transmitted. However, you should always keep an eye out for these two diseases following a brown dog tick bite since one can be deadly if you don't seek prompt treatment.
Talk to an organization like Orange Grove Animal Hospital for more information.