Ticks carry ehrlichiosis, a disease that kills 50 percent of the dogs it infects, according to the association.
There is no vaccine to prevent ehrlichiosis, but tick repellant products such as Frontline and Advantiz, along with tick collars which contain Amitraz are good solutions, the association said.
“It’s much more difficult if the dogs are maintained or spend considerable time on farms or in the woods, due to the higher concentration in these areas. In these cases, the dogs have to, in addition to the regular prevention, be checked for ticks every day. One needs to also be aware that in our country the tick responsible for the transmission of ehrlichia usually lives in environments created by humans, so it’s highly recommended to control and fumigate the areas where both people and animals live,” said Katja Bader of the association.
Ehrlichiosis is treatable with the antibiotic doxicicline, but only if caught at the time of the first symptoms and before it spreads to the dog’s organs, said the association. The drug must be taken twice a day for 28 days . A deviation from this prescription is likely to cause the dog to continue to carry the disease, the organization said.
The most common signs that a dog is infected are lethargy, weight loss, loss of appetite, and anemia, the association said. Other symptoms can be hemorrhages under the skin or gums, swollen lymph nodes, muscular or joint soreness, nasal discharges or nosebleeds, severe neck or back pain, blood in the urine and eye irritations, it added.
In the chronic form, the dog may appear normal but once it becomes stressed or its immune system goes down, the disease becomes deadly, according to the association..
The association said that owners are advised to take their dog to a veterinarian and never self-diagnose the disease because a blood test is necessary.
“We know of many cases when the owner diagnosed the disease by himself, often based on some information read on the Internet or the fact that the dog had ticks. These usually end tragically, as in some cases the dogs actually had kidney problems, which if not treated in time, plus with the effect of the strong antibiotics given to the animal over an extended period of time, usually results in the animal’s death,” said Ms. Bader.
The key to saving a dog’s life is to not ignore symptoms and to get the animal help as soon as possible, she said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control points out that a tick bite can casue the same disease in a human.