What Diseases can Ticks Transfer to Dogs?

tick on dog

Ticks are particularly troublesome because they can be found almost everywhere and are usually active throughout the year, especially in warmer climates. Therefore, understanding the risk of tick diseases in dogs and knowing how to prevent them is crucial for every dog owner.

Understanding Ticks

Ticks are small, blood-sucking parasites belonging to the arachnid family. They are found in grassy, wooded, and damp areas, waiting for potential hosts. Dogs, being naturally curious and loving outdoor activities, are often easy targets for these parasites. Ticks attach themselves to the dog's skin using their mouthparts, not their bodies, making them difficult to dislodge.

Ticks are not just irritating pests; they are vectors for various diseases. They can carry bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which they transmit to their hosts during feeding. This is why it's vital to understand the threat they pose and take necessary precautions to protect our beloved pets.

Common Types of Ticks that Affect Dogs

There are several types of ticks, but the ones that commonly affect dogs are the American dog tick, the brown dog tick, the black-legged tick, and the Lone Star tick. Each of these ticks is capable of transmitting different diseases, and their prevalence can vary based on geographic location and season.

The American dog tick is known for transmitting diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia. The brown dog tick, on the other hand, can spread canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. The black-legged tick, also known as the deer tick, is infamous for transmitting Lyme disease. Lastly, the Lone Star tick can spread ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI).

How Ticks Transfer Diseases to Dogs

Ticks transfer diseases to dogs through their bites. When a tick attaches itself to a dog's skin, it feeds on the dog's blood. If the tick is carrying pathogens, these can be transmitted to the dog during feeding. The transmission usually occurs after the tick has been attached for several hours to days, depending on the type of tick and disease.

It's also important to note that ticks can remain attached to their host for several days to complete their feeding. During this time, if the tick is carrying a disease, the risk of transmission increases. Unfortunately, ticks are often unnoticed until they have been feeding for a considerable amount of time, increasing the chances of disease transmission.

Diseases Ticks Can Transfer to Dogs

Ticks can transmit a variety of diseases to dogs. The most common dog tick diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Babesiosis. Each of these diseases has different symptoms and can cause severe health issues if not treated promptly.

Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, can lead to lameness, joint swelling, and fever. Ehrlichiosis, on the other hand, can result in weight loss, fever, and bleeding disorders. Anaplasmosis can cause symptoms similar to Lyme disease, along with vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause fever, joint pain, and rashes. Babesiosis can lead to anemia, jaundice, and dark-colored urine.

Symptoms of Tick Diseases in Dogs

Identifying tick diseases in dogs early is crucial for effective treatment. The symptoms can vary based on the type of disease, but there are some common signs to look out for. These include fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness or stiffness, swollen joints, and abnormal bleeding.

It's important to note that symptoms may not appear immediately after a tick bite. It can take days to weeks for signs to become apparent. If your dog has been in an area where ticks are prevalent, and you notice any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian immediately.

Prevention of Tick Diseases in Dogs

Prevention is always better than cure, especially when it comes to tick diseases in dogs. There are several ways to prevent tick infestations and the diseases they carry. Using tick preventatives, like tick collars, spot-on treatments, and oral medications, is the first line of defense. These products kill ticks that come in contact with your dog or deter ticks from attaching in the first place.

Regularly checking your dog for ticks, especially after outdoor activities, is another crucial preventive measure. Pay close attention to areas where ticks like to hide, such as the ears, under the collar, and between the toes. If you find a tick, remove it promptly and correctly to minimize the chances of disease transmission.

The Importance of Regular Check-ups for Dogs

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection of tick diseases in dogs. These check-ups can help identify any health issues before they become severe. During a check-up, your vet can perform a thorough physical examination, conduct necessary tests, and provide preventive measures against ticks.

A regular check-up also gives you the opportunity to discuss any concerns about tick prevention and treatment with your vet. They can provide advice tailored to your dog's lifestyle, breed, and local tick population.

Safeguard Your Dog from Tick Diseases Today


Ticks pose a significant threat to our dogs' health. But with knowledge about tick diseases in dogs, their symptoms, and preventive measures, we can safeguard our furry friends from these harmful parasites. Regular check-ups and vigilant monitoring are vital in keeping our dogs healthy and tick-free. Let's ensure we give our dogs the care they deserve, keeping them safe from the menace of ticks.

For more information on what diseases ticks can transfer to dogs, contact Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center at our office in Cave Creek, Arizona. Please call 480.595.8600 to schedule an appointment today.