Prevent tick bites and tick-borne illnesses in you and your pets

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 21:21

Tick-borne illnesses ashevilleTicks have become an increasing problem to people and animals in Buncombe County and North Carolina. In order to survive and reproduce, a tick must feed on the blood from an animal or human.

Ticks are not only creepy pests, but they can spread diseases to both you and your pet. Each year, as part of your pet's annual exam, we test them for three different tick-borne diseases as part of their heartworm test. These diseases include Lyme, Erlichia and Anaplasmosis. People and pets get the same tick-transmitted diseases. These diseases are not directly contagious between humans and animals (you won't catch Lyme disease from an infected dog), however, we are all exposed to the same ticks outdoors and one recent study showed that people with pets were more likely than those without pets to find ticks on themselves.

Since we've started routine testing for these diseases, we've had several dogs test positive for them. For the most part, these dogs have been asymptomatic, but as with most things, prevention is always the best solution. We sell a variety of oral flea and tick preventatives and can discuss the bets options for your pet. View all of our preventatives..

Lyme disease

Symptoms of Lyme disease vary, although fever and lameness that shifts from one leg to another are typical. The symptoms can be similar to those of other tick-borne diseases. Some dogs have no signs of infection. This disease can affect the kidneys, heart, and nervous system and may be fatal.

Like the other bacterial tick-borne diseases, Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. We also carry a vaccine to help guard against the disease.


The symptoms of ehrlichiosis in dogs and cats depend partly on the rickettsia species and are similar to those of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Dogs can also be infected without showing any symptoms. This disease is also treated with antibiotics. Signs and symptoms of ehrlichiosis


Dogs with Anaplasmosis will often have similar symptoms as those with Lyme disease and both are transmitted by the same tick species. Most infected dogs will have symptoms within seven days of infection, however some will have minor or no symptoms at all.  

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in dogs generally begin a few days to two weeks after transmission. Some of the signs in dogs are fever, loss of appetite, joint pain (lameness or stiff gait), vomiting, and bruising of the skin or gums. It is potentially fatal but can be treated with antibiotics.

Tick paralysis

Some ticks produce a toxin that causes paralysis. The symptoms range from weakness (usually beginning in the rear legs) to a complete inability to move. Removing all ticks may be enough to cure the disease. However, some dogs require intensive treatment in our animal hospital.

View instructions for how to remove a tick from your cat or dog.

Keep these things in mind when removing a tick from your pet:

  • Don’t remove ticks with your fingers. If you must use your fingers, wear gloved and disinfect afterwards.
  • Don’t crush the tick becasue it can force infected body fluids through the tick’s mouth and risk further infection.
  • Don’t try to suffocate or kill the tick while it’s on your pet. This can cause the tick to vomit into your dog, increasing the possibility of infection. Always remove the tick first.
  • Don’t burn the tick as these things can also cause vomiting. Also don’t dispose of the tick in your trashcan or sink as they can easily crawl back out. Put the tick in a plastic bag and save in the freezer for a few days in case you need to take it to be tested at the vet.

As always, contact us if you have any concerns about ticks and your pet.

Download a free PDF with more information about ticks in NC, how they appear, and how to prevent tick bites for you and your pets: