Signs of Ticks on Your Dog or Cat

Ticks can become a real nuisance in the summer and your furry pet may be susceptible to becoming a host for one and being infected with tick-borne diseases or even get a secondary infection from the bite site.

Have you noticed your pet’s ear has become inflamed and even bloody? It may be caused by the presence of a tick. This type of tick is called a dog tick because it is found predominantly in urban and suburban areas — indoors or out--and loves to attach to K9s. It lives in a dark, moist environment, making it particularly accessible to be picked up and carried by a pet.

Signs of Ticks on Your Pet

When a dog or cat becomes infected with a tick, it can look and act like a skin infection. Ticks carry bacteria and other pathogens that are detrimental to health and can cause fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and even an internal illness called neurologic involvement.

Infection of the inner lining of the ear canal, the cochlea, results in hearing loss (hearing a ringing, ever-burning sensation in the ear canal), problems with balance, and a decreased sense of smell. Ticks can also harm other organs of the body, including the brain and the heart.

Keep an eye out for:

  • Excessive scratching
  • Raw or irritated skin
  • Unexplained scabs
  • Pale gums
  • Sudden lethargy

Avoiding Exposure to Ticks

You can help your pet avoid becoming a tick-carrier through keeping their environment clean by removing items that would promote or support ticks such as pet food, soil, and fur. During the summer when ticks are active, you should remove all clothing from any outdoor lines and avoid heavily wooded areas without protection.

You can purchase pet safe tick and bug repellent but make sure to keep your animal’s coat clean no matter what and do regular checks for ticks during the summer months.

Dangers of Ticks

Ticks can remain infectious on animals for up to three weeks after exposure. In animals, clinical signs include vomiting, shock and coma, while neurologic signs can include eye swelling, difficulty walking and seizures. Humans have been diagnosed by their regional lymph nodes, which are now also being tested for the virus. Symptoms of an animal-to-human infection include fever, chills, tiredness, loss of appetite, drowsiness and headaches. Severe illness includes vomiting, excessive salivation, joint pain, chills, seizures and increased liver function tests.

Tick-borne diseases for cats and dogs include:

  • Lyme disease: A potential fatal disease that causes fever, joint pain, lethargy, kidney and damage. The infamous bullseye rash does not appear on animals.
  • Ehrlichiosis: A disease of the blood that can lessen clotting, cause bruising, and cause dogs and cats chronic pain if untreated
  • Anaplasma: A disease similar to Lyme but distinguished by low platelet counts and bleeding disorders
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: A dog and human disease that can cause issues in blood clotting, swollen lymph nodes, feverr, and some neurological issues
  • Bobcat Fever: Cytauxzoonosis, a parasitic disease in cats, causes circulatory impairment, tissue infection, severe inflammation, and multiorgan dysfunction. Cats can die within 24 hours of infection and those that survive can have lifelong health problems
  • Anaplasmosis: A disease common in the Northeast United States that causes lethargy, loss of appetite, and fever in cats
  • Anemia: Both cats and dogs can develop anemia if ticks feed of them and are left untreated