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Old April 26th, 2008, 05:32 PM
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Tick Fever in dogs and cats - Answered by Dr. Lee

Just wanted to make a note on Tick Fever (Ehrlichia) and other tick borne diseases. During Spring we will notice that the flowers bloom, romance flourish and ticks comes out to play. Not only do these nasty little guys cause painful bites, suck blood and are absolutely gross but they can also carry disease.

This last week I diagnosed three Ehrlichial cases and two were given a guarded prognosis but are currently doing fine. Rickettsial diseases are a group of gram negative bacteria that use various arthropods such as lice, ticks and fleas to move from host to host. The must live inside a living cell. Rickettsial diseases make up a large portion of the tick borne diseases. Some examples of rickettsial diseases include: Ehrlichia (tick fever), Rocky Mountain Spotted fever (rickettsia ricketssii), and Anaplasmosis to name a few. Lyme disease is not a rickettsial disease but is also tick borne. It is a spirochete. Another tick borne disease which is not rickettsial is Babsesia.

Tick borne diseases often create vague signs and can often be missed or passed up as a diagnosis. (especially if the pet has traveled to an ehrlichia area for example but lives in a non-tick area for his or her veterinary care). Many tick borne diseases prefer certain tick types. Both the diseases and ticks have demographic 'hot zones'. If your pets live in or have ever traveled to tick areas, asking your veterinarian about testing may be beneficial.

It also brings up the idea of prevention. There are many tick products out on the market. I still am a big Frontline Plus fan. It is safe (it can be eaten without harm). It is waterproof and sunlight proof (many of the others remain topical and as such are diluted with bathing and degrated by UV light). It was also tested with repeated baths with soap lasting 15minutes and still have 100% efficacy at 30 days. Most importantly though, the manufacturer states that not one pet has been diagnosed with a tick borne disease while on this medication. I also like Revolution and Advantix. There is a new product called Promeris but there seems to be side effects and a horrid smell which have not made it be the 'champion' of tick medications as it was thought to have been. For dogs that are considered to have minimal exposure, many over the counter tick collars can work great.

About half of the patients that I diagnose with tick borne disease have owners who can say something like, "well that is impossible, because I have NEVER seen a tick." Many times I think the dog has found the tick and gotten rid of it however the disease may have already been transmitted. It only takes one tick sometimes. In Arizona, one of our labs have diagnosed over 20,000 cases in a five year period.

How are these diseases tested for? Specific blood tests looking for each of them. Traditionally there have been antibody titers which look for patient response to the disease. These are great because they are highly sensitive. Their drawback is that they have a difficult time differentiating between exposure, previous infection and active current infection. There is new technology that looks for the DNA of the tick borne disease (our new lab does a 'fast panel' which looks at 11 different tick borne diseases at once). The great advantage to this is that if the test is positive, there is no question that infection is present unlike the antibody test. Unfortunately the technology is still a little new and we do not know quite how sensitive it is. Currently the laboratory specialist are recommending running both. Hopefully in the future there will be better data on this.

As far as clinical signs, they can vary from disease to disease. Most have aspects of lethargy, joint stiffness or shifting lameness, and fever. Since ehrlichia is in my neck of the woods, our website has information on it at http://www.aachospitals.com/diseaseinfo/ehrlichia.html

Hopefully no one on this forum will ever run into a tick borne disease but thought I should make mention of it.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 08:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Dr Lee View Post
It also brings up the idea of prevention. There are many tick products out on the market. I still am a big Frontline Plus fan. It is safe (it can be eaten without harm). It is waterproof and sunlight proof (many of the others remain topical and as such are diluted with bathing and degrated by UV light). It was also tested with repeated baths with soap lasting 15minutes and still have 100% efficacy at 30 days. Most importantly though, the manufacturer states that not one pet has been diagnosed with a tick borne disease while on this medication.
Great post, Dr Lee, but I'm sorry to say we have 8 here who have been diagnosed with anaplasmosis while being treated with Frontline Plus every 21 days It's good stuff, but it's not totally perfect...so I don't believe everything the manufacturer states... It's possible to overwhelm any topical if you live in Tick Central!

But I agree with everything else you said...'cept maybe for eating it... I've accidentally kissed a dog on the Frontline Plus spot and picked up a mouthful of the stuff. It may be safe to eat, but I'd hate to be the guy who tested it!

I'm especially interested in the 11-DNA-test panel! Is that widely available to vets across the country? Who puts it out? Considering that we're already seeing 10 ticks a day, I'd like to be able to suggest it to our vets if they haven't already heard about it.
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Old April 26th, 2008, 09:16 PM
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Shabby Shabby is offline
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Great post Dr. Lee and thank you for taking the time to share that with all of us.

The area we live in, in Ontario, normally doesn't have problems with ticks and Lyme disease. However, our vet is also testing for Lyme disease along with heartworm before prescribing "my girls" usual doses of Revolution for the upcoming season.

I never even thought to ask our vet "why" he is now testing for Lyme as they haven't done that here before.

Anyway, thanks again for the info., it's much appreciated.

Take care,
Shabby
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Old April 28th, 2008, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by hazelrunpack View Post
Great post, Dr Lee, but I'm sorry to say we have 8 here who have been diagnosed with anaplasmosis while being treated with Frontline Plus every 21 days
I will have to bug my Merial representative next time I see him!!! I like keeping them on their toes. Thanks for the heads up on that one.

Also just FYI for everyone here, Merial has great guarantee program. While animals are using their vaccinations, heartgard and frontline products; problems that should be prevented from the medications can be sometimes covered partially or fully by the company. (I have seen them reimburse clients like no other company. Also they donate large sums of money to animal charities and rescue programs. I really like Merial.) One note: any Merial products obtained from online companies however are not included as they have been obtained from 'grey market' sources.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 10:31 PM
Fozzybear1967 Fozzybear1967 is offline
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Question Top

Why does my dog remain flea free yet my brother-in-laws dogs and one cat are always infested with them. They claim they use the same anti-flea product as I do. Their dogs have thick coats and I'm wondering if when they apply the Top Spot, flea medication they are getting it on the animal's fur and not the skin. As I said before my dog also uses this product and almost everytime we've visited I've never seen a flea on her. The one time I did find fleas was the time we visited and it had been over a month since the medication had been applied. Only because we were in the middle of a cross contry move at the time and the medication was packed away. So my question is, what are they doing wrong? Why does the medication seem to work so well for me and not them?
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Old February 17th, 2010, 09:46 AM
Keva Keva is offline
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My dog was diagnosed with tick fever today. I've had her for 11 years. got her in 1999.
She also has a cancer in one of her nipples. It has gotten huge. I live in Trinidad in the West Indies and pet care isn't the biggest thing on peoples mind. She got some shots at the vet came home and began to vomit. She isn't drinking anything and that has me real worried. When should the medicine kick in? That was since 9 am it's 12 pm now.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 10:26 AM
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I'm sorry you and your dog are going through such a stressful time, Keva

In Wisconsin, the first drug of choice for tick disease is doxycycline. Normally we see an improvement in symptoms within the first 48 hours. But it depends on the severity of the case, whether it's become a chronic infection, and the overall health of the animal.

If your dog isn't drinking and continues to vomit, she needs to go back to the vet. It's very easy for a dog to dehydrate under those conditions, especially if it's warm there.

Good luck with your girl. Please keep us posted on her progress.
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Old January 21st, 2011, 09:23 PM
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Yes, wallyblue, dogs unfortunately contract Lyme's and other TBDs (tick-borne diseases) directly from ticks, just as humans do. We see a lot of ticks here and have had a lot of experience with TBD. Lyme's, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever...all can be transmitted through a tick bite.

Symptoms include rotating lameness (the lameness is in one limb one day, in another the next), stiffness, fever, and lethargy. If you see any of these symptoms or your dog goes off food, it's time for a vet visit. It can take a few weeks for symptoms to develop and depending on which test is used, the results can be falsely negative for longer than that. So if your dog shows symptoms but tests negative for tick diseases, ask your vet to treat with antibiotics, anyway. If caught early, you have a much greater chance of kicking the TBD.

Hope that helps!
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