a The Happy Puppers (Dog care, grooming, behavior, training)

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Garlic in dogs: it's time to know the whole truth

We have all heard about the amazing benefits of garlic for dogs. On the contrary we have also heard the garlic may be poisonous to dogs. So, what should you believe in?

Is garlic for dogs a good option in dog care? Can it really act as the amazing supplement it has been portrayed out to be? Its time to find out! 

I understand that there is a lot of information available on the internet about using garlic in dogs. However, there are some details which you must know as a dog guardian so that garlic can be used as a tool in dog care and not something that will actually harm your dog in the process. I hope this article helps you understand the use of garlic for your dog.

For easy reading of the article, I have divided the blog post into the following topics:

What is the benefit of garlic consumption for dogs?

Which form of garlic is best for your dog’s consumption?

Is garlic really safe for dogs?

Is consumption of garlic safe for all dogs?

Consumption of how much garlic and what interval is safe for your dog?

Can garlic be poisonous to dogs?

Symptoms of garlic poisoning dogs

Should garlic be or not to be a part of dog care?

Are garlic supplements safe for dogs?

Diagnosis of garlic poisoning

Treatment of garlic toxicity in dogs

How can you prevent garlic poisoning in your dog?

What are the alternatives to using garlic for dogs?

Conclusion

 Garlic in dogs: debunking the myths


 Other articles you may find interesting:

Arthritis in dogs: The DO's and DON'Ts for a dog guardian
Allergies in dogs: signs, symptoms and treatment
Excessive shedding in dogs: causes, treatment, home remedies

What is the benefit of garlic consumption for dogs?

Garlic is a readily and easily available remedy. It has been used for thousands of years by the Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners. Garlic contains over 30 compounds which have been observed to provide benefits in case of a variety of conditions from skin related issues to cancer.

Garlic is also recommended by holistic veterinarians for its numerous health benefits for dogs. Following are some of the primary health benefits of using garlic for dogs

Boosts the immune system

Garlic increases the activity of the immune cells which are responsible for killing pathogens and other harmful microorganisms. The increase in the killer cells of the population means that the invading microbes as well as cancer cells will be eliminated quickly and efficiently. Therefore, moderate levels of garlic supplementation in your dog’s diet, even if your dog is healthy, will boost his or her immune system as well as keep him or her away from cancer.

Fighting viral\fungal/bacterial infections:

Garlic has some powerful antibiotic as with antimicrobial effects. It can help your dog to fight against a variety of internal as well as external viral, fungal or bacterial infections. It has even been found to be effective against parasitic infections like tapeworms and protozoan infections like Giardia.

Prevents infection in and out:

An addition of garlic to your dog’s diet, can help your dog prevent any kind of infection in the intestines, stomach, respiratory tract, throat, mouth. You can also use garlic diluted in a small amount of olive oil as a topical remedy for any kind of minor injury, ear infection as well as ear mites. This topical ointment has several antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.

Consumption of garlic enhances the liver function

Garlic has been observed to have detoxifying effects. Garlic contains at least six compounds which can help in enhancing liver function by limiting toxins and preventing the accumulation of toxins which may cause in your dog.

Lowering triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels:

Consumption of uncooked garlic with food allows reduction of the triglyceride as well as blood cholesterol level in dogs. Garlic can be really useful for breeds which are predisposed to hyperlipidemia (disease in which the amount of lipids in the blood stream increases) like beagles, miniature schnauzers etc.

Garlic can act as a cardiovascular tonic:

Garlic has compounds which are very efficient at preventing formation of blood clots in the vasculature of your dog. As I mentioned before, garlic reduces the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries, thus preventing atherosclerosis. Thus, garlic can act as an excellent cardiovascular tonic for senior dogs.

Flea and tick repellent:

As mentioned in my previous blog posts, garlic can act as a very effective tick and flea prevention method. However, the mechanism of action of garlic in this case is not clear. It might be because of the products released from the garlic on your dog’s skin when the compounds present in garlic are oxidized.

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Garlic in dogs: what's the real truth?


Which form of garlic is best for your dog’s consumption?

Garlic acts best when consumed raw. If the garlic is cooked on high heat like sautéed, roasted or boiled, it will lose its goodness and the medicinal properties.

The component of garlic which gives of a strong odor is Allicin. This compound is very unstable and quickly dissipates when exposed to any kind of moisture, heat or air. Allicin is also the compound which provides garlic its antibiotic properties. Thus, if you are planning to use garlic as an antibiotic, the best way to do this would be to use either raw garlic or garlic juice. Remember to use the concoction within three hours of chopping or grinding.

If you are thinking of using garlic as supplement for cancer prevention, nutritional supplement, cardiovascular tonic or immunity booster, you can go for garlic pills. However, remember to have a consultation with your vet before you embark on using garlic as a regular nutritional supplement for your dog.

 Now that we have discussed all the potential benefits of garlic, the doses as well as the form in which garlic should be used, let’s look to the negative side of the story.

Is garlic really safe for dogs?

Of late there have been many questions about the safety of use of garlic for dogs. The primary controversy amongst all these in regarding the safety of consumption of garlic for dogs as well as cats. Garlic contains a compound called as an n-propyldisulfide. This compound is found garlic as well as in onions [in greater amounts than garlic]. If this compound is consumed in large doses, it can lead to the oxidative damage to the red blood cells. This leads to formation of Heinz bodies in the RBCs. Heinz bodies are rejected by the dog’s body and remove from the bloodstream. Therefore, if a dog ingests large doses of this compound or large quantities of garlic and onion on a regular interval, it can lead to formation of a large amount of Heinz bodies which can cause rejection of the RBCs leading to anemia. In severe cases this may even lead to death of the dog.

So this means that garlic is poisonous for dogs, right?

The internet has points against as well as in favor of garlic for dogs. I will be presenting both of them to you in the following section:

Studies have observed that if a dog is administered garlic as per his or her body weight, there is no way that the dog would ever show any negative signs or symptoms. A study done in 2000 in Hokkaido University observed the effect of garlic and onion in dogs. In the study, 1.25 ml of garlic extract was given to the dog per kg of his or her body weight. Therefore, if the dog weighed 50 pounds, he would be administered around 25 cloves of garlic. No one would give so much of garlic to their dogs in normal conditions.

Despite of this ridiculously high amount of garlic administration, none of the dogs showed any signs of damage or garlic toxicity. Even though garlic did have a negative effect on the dog’s red blood cells, it did not lead to anemia.

Other studies have observed that the compound Allicin which is present in garlic is actually good for the dog’s health. A study done in 2004 showed that despite of using high garlic concentrations, the dogs did not develop or showed signs of hemolytic anemia. This led to retraction of the previous paper as well as proved those researchers wrong who said that garlic is toxic or bad for dogs. As per the new findings, it was concluded that garlic has the potential to prevent cardiovascular disease and promote the immune functions in dogs.

Therefore, garlic is non-toxic your dog and can be used in moderate amounts. A dog will have to eat a lot of garlic to begin the oxidative process which would lead to anemia. Furthermore, since red blood cells are regenerated regularly in the bone marrow, the number of garlic cloves consumed will have to be very high, to induce the oxidative process which would lead to formation of the Heinz bodies. Therefore, if you are administering moderate amount of garlic to your dog at regular intervals, it is safe and potentially even healthy for your dog.

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Garlic in dogs: debunking the myths

Is consumption of garlic safe for all dogs?

Even though a small quantity of garlic administered on a regular basis is completely safe for all dogs, if your dog suffers from any of the following conditions, he or she should not be administered garlic in any form or dose:

  • If your dog is suffering from anemia or is scheduled to undergo surgery soon, he or she should not be given garlic in any form.
  • If your dog is still young [between the age of 6 to 8 weeks], he or she should not be administered garlic in any form since at this stage puppies do not have new red blood cell formation.

Consumption of how much garlic and what interval is safe for your dog?

According to author Gregory Tilford (all you ever wanted to know about herbs for Pets author), consumption of 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder for every 1 pound of dog food is enough when administered 3 to 4 times every week.

According to the author Dr. Martin Goldstein (Nature of Animal Healing), you can add garlic to your dog homemade food on a regular basis.

As per expert Dr. Pitcairn, the following doses of fresh garlic is recommended to be given 4 times a week to dogs as per their size:

10 to 15 pounds of body weight-half clove of garlic

20 to 40 pounds of body weight- 1 clove

45 to 70 pounds of body weight- 2 cloves of garlic

70-90 pounds of body weight- 2(1/2) cloves of garlic

100 pounds of body weight and above- 3 cloves of garlic

 Can garlic be poisonous to dogs?

As I mentioned before, garlic can cause anemia in dogs. It has been observed that the powdered form of garlic which is used in seasoning is a very potent poison. Japanese dog breeds like Shiba Inu, Akita Inu have been observed to be adversely affected by garlic compared to other breeds. However, the reason behind this is not clear. Experts postulate that this could be due to the presence of higher red blood cell count as well as low potassium and glutathione levels in the Japanese breeds.

Symptoms of garlic poisoning dogs:

Garlic poisoning can cause major damage your dog’s red blood cells. The common symptoms observed in garlic poisoning are:

  • gastrointestinal upset
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • respiratory issues
  • abdominal pain
  • lethargy
  • jaundice
  • weakness
  • appetite loss
  • Depression
  • diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • Hyper salivation

Should garlic be or not to be a part of dog care?

I have presented evidence to you both in favor as well as against the use of garlic for dogs. However, according to the AKC (American Kennel Club) as well as PetMD, garlic in any manner or form should not be consumed by your dog. In case your dog consumes even a tiny amount of garlic, consult your vet immediately. Minimal quantities of garlic, even 15 to 30 g per cage of your dog’s body weight can put your dog in danger. Some dogs may show increased sensitivity towards garlic compared to others and develop garlic toxicity symptoms much quicker. Hence if you suspect that your dog has consumed garlic any form or quantity, do not delay in consulting your vet

Are garlic supplements safe for dogs?

Studies have actually not proven commercial garlic supplements to show any positive results for dogs. Even though, as previously mentioned small doses may be safe for most dog breeds, the known risks as well as the lack of positive evidence must be taken into consideration when deciding whether to use garlic as a nutritional supplement for your dog or not. If you are thinking of adding garlic as part of your dog’s diet, consult your vet first. Administering an incorrect dose can have a drastic negative effect on your dog. Therefore, it is always better to consult with your vet before adding garlic as a nutritional supplement to your dog’s diet.

Diagnosis of garlic poisoning

The diagnosis of garlic poisoning is basically conducted via a series of physical exams, medical history as well as laboratory diagnosis.

The physical examination involves recording your dog’s body temperature, respiration rate, weight, height, blood pressure as well as abdominal palpitation. Your veterinarian will focus on the heart rate, mucus membrane color, breathing pattern and general reflexes. He or she will ask you for certain details like previous illnesses, injuries, vaccination details and any abnormal behavior.

To confirm the presence of any gastric toxicosis, your vet will conduct a complete blood work which will include analysis of blood glucose levels, complete blood count (CBC), arterial blood gas levels, hemoglobin concentration as well as urine analysis.

Depending on the results of the tests, your vet may perform some other diagnostic tests to rule out other diseases like liver biopsy and blood clotting test. An abdominal ultrasound, CT scan and X rays may be conducted to check your dog’s liver and spleen.

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Treatment of garlic toxicity in dogs

Treatment of garlic toxicity in dogs

In case you suspect that your dog has ingested large amount of garlic or garlic bread or any other food items contained garlic, immediately take him or her to the nearest emergency vet care. Onion and garlic poisoning have not been observed to be fatal in dogs but your dog may need hospitalization and supportive care depending on the condition. Your vet might recommend administration of IV fluids to keep your dog properly hydrated and may prescribe oral medications to control the vomiting. In case of severe disease, a blood transfusion might be deemed mandatory. IV fluids will help your dog’s kidney and your bloodstream and flush out garlic from the system. Your vet may also conduct a gastric lavage to remove the garlic from the stomach if it has been ingested in the last two hours. He or she may want to administer activated charcoal which has been known to absorb toxins or a cathartic drug which will enhance the excretion of the toxin from your dog’s body

How can you prevent garlic poisoning in your dog?

Prevention is always better than cure. Prevent your dog from consuming anything which may have traces of garlic in it. Do not serve your dog any home-cooked meal or take away if there is even a slight inclination of the food containing garlic. Keep your trash area covered and prevent your dog from getting into it.

What are the alternatives to using garlic for dogs?

If you are looking for healthy alternatives to garlic, consider adding high nutrient vegetables and fruits to your dog’s diet like watermelon, cucumbers, carrots, blueberries, apples, strawberries and sweet potatoes.

Conclusion:

If you ask me, I’d say, use the alternatives rather than raw garlic. Granted, garlic has its benefits. But why put your pup n harm’s way when it can easily be avoided? As far as the research goes, they have been conducted on small number of dogs as well as those belonging to some specific breeds. Thus, the information gained cannot be generalized across dogs of all breeds. Avoid using raw garlic or products which contain garlic for your pup. It is our responsible as guardians to chose what is the best dog care option for our pups.

Has your dog ever suffered from garlic poisoning? What did you do in such a condition? What treatment protocol did your vet follow to help your pup recover? Let me know in the comment section. If there is a story or anecdote you wish to share, feel free to contact me on any of my social media channels. I will be happy to post your story on the blog.

See you in my next blog post
Shruti



Saturday, June 19, 2021

Tick bite fever in dogs: The causes, symptoms and remedies

Most dog guardians have heard of Lyme disease caused by tick. However, have you heard of tick fever which can cause serious complication in your dogs?

Tick fever is also referred to as canine Ehrlichiosis. It is found worldwide and has been reported to be present in almost all the states of the United States. Canine Ehrlichiosis is mainly caused by a microorganism called as Rickettsia. Rickettsia is a bacterium which mostly behaves like a virus, i.e. It can use your dog’s body cells for the purpose of reproducing and living.

There are two primary forms of Rickettsia which are responsible for causing ehrlichiosis in dogs:

Ehrlichia canis: This is mainly transmitted by the Brown Dog tick and is also the most prevalent form.

Ehrlichia ewingii: This one is transmitted by the Lone Star tick and is less prevalent than Ehrlichia canis.

 For an easy read I have divided the article into the following sub categories:

How can your dog become infected by tick fever?

Signs and symptoms of tick fever

How is tick fever diagnosed?

How is tick fever treated?

Prognosis for dogs suffering from tick fever

How can you prevent tick fever? Are there any vaccines available?

Can humans get tick fever from dogs?

Some final thoughts

Tick bite fever in dogs

Check out these other articles which may be of interest to you:

How can your dog become infected by tick fever?

Ticks are basically like vampires. The tend to suck the blood and take up residence for a long time on your dog. When ticks feed on a specific animal, the animal becomes infected. During the feeding process the ticks transmit the microorganism Rickettsia into the bloodstream of the animal they are feeding on, thus transmitting the disease. In case of the tick fever, when the brown dog tick or the Lone Star tick feeds on the blood of the dog, they transmit the Ehrlichia species into the dog’s bloodstream. Ehrlichia has a tendency to stay alive in the tick for a period of 5 to 6 months before it needs to be passed on to another host.

When a tick carrying Ehrlichia bites a dog, it will immediately injected saliva into your dog’s blood. The saliva of ticks not only possesses an anesthetic effect (this prevents the dog from realizing the presence of an intruder on its fur, while the tick quietly drinks away the blood), it also has a very hard cement like material which allows the tick to stay stuck to the dog’s skin. Tick’s saliva also contains an anticoagulant which prevents the dog’s blood from clotting and allows the tick to continue feeding for days.

This is definitely not good news for your dog or any dog whom the tick decides to make its prey. It only takes a few hours, (approximately 3 to 6 hours) for the microorganism Ehrlichia to get transmitted from the tick’s saliva into the bloodstream of the dog. Unfortunately, a single bite is enough for the dog to get infected.

Once the microorganism is present in the bloodstream of your dog, it tends to multiply and spread to other parts of your dog’s body. From the point of the causative organism’s entry into your dog’s bloodstream, it can take around 8 to 20 days for your dog to start showing the first signs of being infected by tick fever

Tick bite fever in dogs






Signs and symptoms of tick fever

The symptoms of tick fever can present themselves in a very mild manner during the initial stages. Tick fever can be primarily be divided into three different stages which I have previously discussed as well:

Stage I: The acute phase

This is the earliest stage of tick fever infection. During the stage most dogs will only show the following mild signs:

  • swelling in the lymph nodes
  • low-grade fever
  • nasal discharge
  • loss of appetite
  • joint pain
  • difficulty in breathing

The acute phase generally lasts from about 2 to 4 weeks. During this time the dog may also seem to start recovering until he or she starts showing symptoms of the next stages.

Stage II: The subclinical phase

This is the second phase which comes after the acute phase. During this stage the microorganism is definitely present in your dog’s bloodstream, but it does not show any visible signs or and symptoms. All the organisms does right now, is that it takes up residence in your dog’s spleen and remains dormant for a while. This phase can carry on from a period of several months to years during which your dog might appear to be completely healthy and normal. If your dog’s immune system is strong enough, then this would be the stage where your dog will fight off the organism and truly recover from the disease.

Stage III: The chronic phase

This is the final phase of the disease. This will occur if the dog is not able to fight off the infection during the sub clinical phase. The following are the symptoms of the chronic phase of tick fever:

  • Anemia
  • Eye inflammation [uveitis, retinal diseases, hemorrhages in the eye and damaged corneas]
  • swelling in the legs
  • tenderness in the abdomen mainly caused due to the enlargement of the liver
  • depression
  • bleeding episodes due to a massive decrease in the amount of platelets
  • kidney issues
  • neurological signs and symptoms
  • failure of the bone marrow

Since the bone marrow is the organ which is responsible for manufacturing for the red blood cells, the failure of the bone marrow sentences the dog to a certain death.

How is tick fever diagnosed?

Tick fever can be very difficult to diagnose. It is specifically harder to diagnose in the early stages of the disease. Most dog guardians will not realize that their dog is suffering from tick fever unless the dog is already in the chronic stages when the symptoms have taken a turn for the worse.

The diagnosis of tick fever is made on the basis of the history of the dog’s exposure to tick previously, the symptoms the dog is showing, a full blood work which would indicate a low platelet count as well as a blood test to check if the dog has specific antibodies against Ehrlichia.

A dog’s immune system generally takes 2 to 3 weeks to start producing antibodies against Ehrlichia. Therefore, blood tests done during the early phase may report as false-negative. Due to this, your vet might recommend you to perform a second test a few weeks later to make sure that the first negative result was really negative.

Thus, the precautionary dog care measure always recommend is that in case you observe a large tick [one which is full of blood] on your pup, first, remove the tick. Following this, you should have your pooch immediately tested for tick fever. If the result comes out as negative, have your pooch tested again after eight weeks of finding and removing the tick.

Tick bite fever in dogs

How is tick fever treated?

The method of tick fever treatment primarily depends on the symptoms the dog is showing and the severity during the time of diagnosis. If the dog is suffering from severe bleeding issues, he or she might need hospitalization, IV fluids as well as blood transfusion to help him/her become strong enough to start the treatment against Ehrlichiosis. If your dog is suffering from an kind of ocular inflammation caused by ehrlichiosis, corticosteroids might be the drug of choice to help reduce inflammation in the eyes.

The only way available of getting rid of Ehrlichia is to administer a full antibiotics course. The primary drugs of choice for the treatment of tick fever are Tetracycline as well as Doxycycline. These are usually given for a period of three weeks to a few months.

Dogs who are able to receive treatment during the early phases start to show signs of improvement within 24 to 48 hours of initiation of the treatment. However, dogs who are in the chronic phase may start to show signs of recovery after several months of starting treatment.

Prognosis for dogs suffering from tick fever

As is the case in most diseases, and early detection and treatment greatly increases the dog’s chance of surviving through the tick fever. Dogs who otherwise have a healthy immune system can be expected to make a complete recovery even though they may be susceptible to reinfection later.

Order dogs who do not have a strong immune system, or those who suffer from bone marrow issues may have a harder time recovering from tick fever. It has been observed that breeds like Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds have increased reaction towards tick fever and a poor prognosis compared to other dog breeds.

Fortunately, if your dog recovers from tick fever, you can stay sure that he or she will lead a normal and healthy life. However, you must take all tick related precautions to prevent your dog from getting infected by a tick again.

How can you prevent tick fever? Are there any vaccines available?

Unfortunately, at this moment there are no vaccines available to prevent Ehrlichiosis. However, as a dog guardian there are a few steps you can take to prevent your dog from coming in contact with the tick altogether.

Check out this blog post to know about 32 different types of tick prevention strategies and home remedies. There are many ways you can protect your pup from getting infected by tick. A few of them are as follows:

You can use veterinary spot treatments which are normally placed under your dog skin. These will not only repel the ticks which come in contact with your dog, they will also kill the tick which might be present on your dog’s fur already. Make sure to consult with your veterinarian first about which product would be safe for your dog depending on your dog’s health and immune conditions.

You can use tick repellent like homemade ticks sprays, anti-tick shampoos as well as dips

Focus on treating the corners of your house, the furniture and lawn with anti-tick treatments. You can also use diatomaceous earth for getting rid of both fleas as well as ticks.

Keep your yard inhospitable to ticks by use of pesticides. Remember to consult with your vet before you choose a pesticide so as so as to make sure that the pesticide does not harm your dog.

Check your dog after every walk. Comb thoroughly through his or her fur to remove any tick which have gotten attached to your pup.

Can humans get tick fever from dogs?

The good part about this is that you cannot catch Ehrlichiosis from your dog. However, there is a chance that you can catch the dreadful disease if the infected tick comes and bites you. Therefore, preventing tick infestation on your dog as well as your house is the best way to go. Ticks have a very thick exoskeleton (outside shell) which makes it hard to kill them manually. Therefore, keep a strict eye out for any tick activity around you or in your environment.

Tick bite fever in dogs

Some final thoughts

The primary thing to remember here is that the longer the tick remains attached to your dog, the higher the chance that your dog will develop tick fever. Hence, if you find a tick on your dog, especially an engorged one [a tick who has fed on blood and increased in size], remove it immediately with the help of a pair of tweezers and contact your veterinarian. Remember to get your dog tested immediately and 8 weeks later as well just to be sure that your dog is not suffering from tick fever.

Have you ever faced a situation like this? What antibiotics and supportive care did the vet advice for your pup?  How long did it take for your pup to recover? If you have a specific story or anecdote about your dog that you wish to share with everyone. I would love to feature your story on my blog.

 
See you in my next blog post
Shruti

 

 

 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Lyme disease in dogs: the symptoms, causes, treatment and home remedies

Lyme disease in dogs is currently the most common of the tick transmitted diseases worldwide. 

This blog post focuses on helping you understand the causes behind Lyme disease in dogs, the symptoms, the treatment as well as preventive home remedies.

Lyme disease is one of the diseases transmitted by ticks amongst a variety of other tick related diseases which affect the canine population. Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete bacterium known as Borrelia burgdorferi. The primary mode of transmission through tick bites. It has been observed that only about 5 to 10% of the affected canine population actually developed the symptoms of the disease. So, there is a chance, that a lot of dogs may have been infected by Lyme disease but may have been asymptomatic [not showing the symptoms of the disease].

Since the first case of this disease occurred in Lyme, Connecticut in the year 1975, it has been named as the Lyme disease. This disease is hard to diagnose and can cause serious health issues to your dog.

To make reading of the article easier, I have divided the blog post in the following subcategories. Feel free to click on the hyperlink to directly reach to the topic which is of interest to you:

Causes behind Lyme disease

Can Lyme disease affect humans?

Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs

Can Lyme disease be fatal to dogs?

Diagnosis of Lyme disease in dogs

Treatment of Lyme disease in dogs

how can you prevent Lyme disease in dogs

What is the right way to remove a tick from a dog?

Few final thoughts

Lyme diseases in dogs

Let’s begin with a discussion of the causes behind Lyme disease in dogs

Causes behind Lyme disease

As I mentioned above, the causative organism of Lyme disease is Borrelia burgdorferi. This spirochete is primarily transmitted via the bite of a tick. So far, there are four known tick species which have been observed to transmit Lyme disease. The highest transmission rate of Lyme disease has been observed in the bite of the tick referred to as the black legged tick or the deer tick. These ticks have been observed to act as primary vectors in Europe, Asia, the Midwest, West Coast as well as northeast regions of the US.

The primary thing to remember here is that the tick is just a vector. The tick does not cause the disease. The disease gets transmitted by the saliva of the tick which contains the spirochete. When the tick bites an infected animal, it sucks the blood of the infected animal, as a result of which, the bacteria gets transmitted into the tick’s bloodstream. When the same tick bites another uninfected animal, it transmits the causative organism via its blood and saliva into the bloodstream of the uninfected animal, thus infecting it.

Once the tick is attached to your dog’s skin, it will take the tick at least 1 to 2 days (24 to 48 hours) transmit the bacteria which causes Lyme disease. Therefore, the earlier the tick is removed, the higher is the chance of recovery of your pup.

Ticks have not been observed to either fly or jump. They can only crawl from one place to another. Then how do ticks infect dogs? Ticks normally stay at tips of vegetations and bushes. When your dog comes in contact with the bush tips, the tick immediately latches onto your dog and crawls over to find a nice place to bite.

Check out these other tick related diseases in dogs

Can Lyme disease affect humans?

The ticks have generally been observed to prefer certain kind of creatures like white footed mice or deer whom they need to complete certain stages of their lifecycle. However, this does not mean that they are not willing to bite your dog or you. In case the tick is harboring the bacteria in its body, it can infect both dogs and humans by a single bite.

The risk of transmission of Lyme disease is the highest during the tick months which are from June to October. During this time, the nymphs and the adults are actively trying to find hosts, which puts you and your dog in the vulnerable category.

The risk of transmission of Lyme disease to humans have been increasing. In the last two decades, the number of cases reported by Centers for Disease Control [CDC] has doubled to about 30,000 every year. Even though the chances of the tick biting humans and dogs is almost equal, dogs are at higher risk if they are living on farms or if they live in regions which have a lot of wooded areas.

Other tick related blog articles

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs, one of the deadliest tick diseases
Tick bite paralysis in dogs: Causes, symptoms, treatment and remedies.
Home remedies to remove ticks

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Lyme diseases in dogs



Symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs

Lyme disease is a pretty common disease observed in canines. Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of Lyme disease are harder to detect in case of dogs compared to humans. In humans people suffering from Lyme disease develop a bulls-eye – the bite site which is a characteristic of this disease. This rash develops within the span of 3 to 30 days. The site specific rash can be used as a way to diagnose the disease. However, in case of canines, the absence of this rash makes the diagnosis of this disease pretty difficult.

The following are the most common symptoms of Lyme disease observed in dogs:

  • fever
  • lethargy
  • feeling of malaise
  • lameness
  • joint inflammation

The lameness primarily occurs due to the inflammation of the joints. It may last for a period of 3 to 4 days and then recur a few days or few weeks later, either affecting the same leg again or any other leg/legs. These symptoms are primarily referred to as shifting leg lameness. Your dog may suffer from swelling in one or more joints.

Other symptoms observed in this disease:

  • appetite loss
  • enlargement of the lymph nodes
  • Depression
  • Stiff motor movements with an arched back
  • difficulty in breathing
  • sensitivity towards touch
  • nervous system or heart disease

Lyme disease has also been observed to cause kidney damage in dogs. This mainly occurs as a result of a severe infection. The primary effects observed are:

  • Kidney failure
  • Glomerulonephritis

If your dog is starting to exhibit signs like diarrhea, appetite loss, increased levels of urination, elevated thirst, vomiting, swollen limbs as well as abnormal fluid buildups, take your pup to the vet immediately. These might be the signs of your dog’s kidneys shutting down.

Can Lyme disease be fatal to dogs?

Lyme disease can affect your dog’s kidney, causing them to stop functioning. Under these circumstances, the disease most often takes a fatal turn for the dog.

Diagnosis of Lyme disease in dogs

When you take your dog to the pup there are a few questions he or she will first inquire about:

  • history of your dog’s health
  • when did you observe the tick on your dog?
  • how much time passed between the observation of the tick on your dog and when your dog started to show symptoms.
  • What are the symptoms that your dog is displaying?

Your vet may conduct a thorough physical search for the tick in your dog’s fur. He or she may need to shave certain areas of the dog’s body in case your dog has thick matted fur or is endowed with a double coat fur layer. Once the tick has been isolated, it will be sent to the clinical laboratory for diagnosis of the tick species. Since ticks cause seven variety of disease in dogs, it is of utmost importance to identify the tick species which has bitten your dog before starting the antibiotic therapy. Antibiotic treatments may differ depending on the kind of microorganism that has infected your dog.

Since tick related antibody tests can take up to 4 to 6 weeks to actually show up as positive after exposure to the tick, your vet may use a combination of different diagnostic techniques to diagnose the disease your dog is suffering from:

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Lyme disease in dogs
  • complete blood cell count
  • fecal examination
  • blood chemistry work
  • urine analysis
  • x-rays and specific tests to understand if it is Lyme disease
  • specific antibody test against Lyme disease
  • PCR and ELISA
  • Aspiration of fluid from the swollen joint for analysis.

Treatment of Lyme disease in dogs

Since Lyme disease is primarily caused by bacteria, it is treated by the administration of antibiotics. The primary antibiotic of choice for treating all tick related diseases are Doxycycline followed by the antibiotic Amoxicillin and then Azithromycin. The treatment duration generally last for about few weeks. Longer antibiotic course may be necessary depending on the condition of your dog. In case your dog is suffering from swollen joints, your veterinarian may prescribe some anti-inflammatory drugs as well. Depending on the condition of your pup, he or she may need hospitalization and supportive care.

The unfortunate part about this disease is that the antibiotic treatment is not always completely successful in removing the infection. The symptoms of Lyme disease may return later or may even manifest themselves as kidney problems in your dog. The proper administration of antibiotic treatment reduces the chances of this happening. However, you must be careful in future and keep a close eye on your dog if he or she has had a previous episode of Lyme disease.

Once the antibiotics have been administered, you should see a sudden improvement in the joint inflammation 3 to 4 days after starting the treatment. If you do not observe any improvement after a span of 3 to 5 days of starting treatment, consult your veterinarian again. Your dog might need a reevaluation

How can you prevent Lyme disease in dogs?

Tick avoidance plays a huge role in controlling Lyme disease in dogs. Keep your house, backyard, garage and surrounding areas tick free. There are vaccines available against Lyme diseases. Make sure your dog is up to date on the vaccination schedule. If you live in a wooded region, you can use pesticides to kill ticks. However, consult your veterinarian before you start using any kind of pesticide to make sure that the pesticide won’t harm your pup.

During the peak season, regularly bathe your dog in an anti-tick shampoo, comb your dog thoroughly after every walk or hike, get your dog tested immediately and 4 to 6 weeks later if you see a tick on your dog etc.

Check out these 32 herbal remedies to keep ticks away from your dog.

What is the right way to remove a tick from a dog?

If you observe a tick stuck your dog’s skin, do not try to remove it with your bare hands. Since Lyme disease can be transmitted to humans via infected ticks, you should be very careful when removing a tick from your dog. Always use latex disposable gloves before you remove the tick from your dog’s body. Take a pair of tweezers and some alcohol solution or sanitizer. Remove the tick from your dog’s body, make sure to get the head as well. Drown the tick immediately in the solution of alcohol or sanitizer to kill the tick. Ticks have a very hard exoskeleton, so do not try to crush the tick between your fingers. You can however, crush the tick between solid surfaces. There are commercial tools available in the market for tick removal which can be used for this purpose. Be very cautious when removing the tick. Do not jerk or break off the tick. If the tick is broken off, there might still be part of the tick which remains attached to your dog and continues to spread the infection.

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Lyme disease in dogs

 Few final thoughts

Remember to keep your dog’s vaccination up to date and use as many tick preventive measures as possible after a consultation with your veterinarian. What do you do to eliminate tick problem from your house and surrounding area? Has your dog ever suffered from any tick diseases? How did you help your pup? What antibiotics were administered to your dog? I would love to know your stories and anecdotes please put them down in the comment section below. If there’s a specific story you want to share with the world, feel free to contact me on any of my social media channels.

See you in my next blog post

Shruti

 

 

 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs, one of the deadliest tick diseases

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs, causes, symptoms, treatment strategies and finally prevention

A lot of dog guardians must’ve heard about the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. However, if you have not heard of this disease before, you have come to the right place. In this blog post, I will be discussing everything about this tick related disease and preventive measures.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is mainly caused by transmission of blood and saliva from ticks to your dog. It can be a pretty fatal disease if not treated immediately. Follow the blog post all the way to the end to understand the causes, symptoms, treatments as well as preventive measures of this dreaded disease.

What is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever?

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or RMSF is a disease which is caused by the parasitic bacteria known as Rickettsia rickettsia. This bacterium is generally transmitted via the blood and saliva of ticks. Only the presence of this bacteria on the dog does not make the animal sick. However, if the ticks who generally carry these bacteria bite your dog, the bacteria gets transmitted from the saliva and blood of the tick into your dog’s bloodstream. This can lead to a life-threatening condition if the dog is not provided proper medical care as soon as possible.

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Prevalence of RMSF

This disease has most often been observed in the Central, South as well as North regions of America and is currently one of the most prevalent tickborne disease in the above-mentioned regions. If you think that your dog is showing any signs and symptoms of the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, do not cause any delay in consulting your veterinarian. The sooner your dog gets the treatment, the highest chances are of full recovery.

Rocky mountain spotted fever in dogs


Other articles in the Dog Tick series:


What are the causes behind Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs?

The mode of transmission of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever generally involves ticks. The tick will first bite an animal who is already infected with the bacteria, Rickettsia rickettsia. Now the tick has the microorganism in its circulation. Next, the tick will go and bite another uninfected animal. During the process of sucking blood, the tick will transmit the microorganism Rickettsia into this uninfected animal’s blood, thus infecting him or her. Ticks have also been observed to pass Rickettsia into their mates or their eggs.

The most common species of tick which has been observed to transmit this disease is the wood tick and the American dog tick in the Western states. In Arizona, it has been observed that the brown dog tick is responsible for the transmission of the disease.

There are several species of ticks which have been observed to transmit this disease. The bacteria may also get transmitted during the process of blood transfusion if the blood being transfused has been taken from an infected dog. This is however a less commonly observed scenario.

Certain dogs are at high risk for developing symptoms of RMSF. Dogs who are purebred as well as German Shepherds have been observed to be at higher risks of developing this disease. Dogs living in regions where the prevalence of ticks is high or those who spend a lot of their time outdoors are more likely to get infected by this disease.

The tick season starts in March and ends in October. This is the time when your dog is most vulnerable to a tick infection. Therefore, all dog guardians must take the grooming part of dog care very seriously during this period.

How much time does it take for the symptoms to develop?

For an infected tick to pass the disease to your dog, it must feed on your dog for at least 5 to 20 hours for transmission of the parasite. Once the parasite has gained access to your dog’s bloodstream, it will enter into the blood vessels and reproduce there. This will lead to the constriction and inflammation of the affected blood vessels. The incubation period (the duration when the animal is infected but not showing symptoms) of this disease is generally two days however it can take as long as two weeks for your dog to start showing symptoms

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs

Some dogs even after infection with RMSF may not show symptoms i.e. they may be asymptomatic. However, in other cases, the dog may develop severe and deadly symptoms of RMSF. The trouble here is that the symptoms of RMSF may be nonspecific and might mimic the symptoms of other canine diseases. Hence, if you are worried that your dog might be suffering from RMSF, do not delay in consulting your veterinarian.

In case you observe the presence of tick on your dog’s fur or if you see a tick bite on your dog, followed by the following symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately:

  • anorexia
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness
  • Fever
  • lethargy
  • discolored spots on the skin which look bruised or purple in color
  • presence of blood in urine
  • abdominal pain
  • joint pain
  • coordination loss
  • swelling of the face or limbs
  • difficulty in breathing
  • exercise intolerance
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • redness observed in the eyes
  • bleeding from the nose or in stools
  • prolonged bleeding [no coagulation of blood]
  • swelling the lymph nodes
  • seizures
  • neurological signs and symptoms like wobbly walk
  • haemorrhages in the eyes and gums
  • arrhythmia
  • changes in normal behavior
  • necrosis of the extremities due to formation of gangrenes
  • Shock
  • Coma
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Rocky mountain spotted fever in dogs


Identification of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs:

When you take your dog to your vet, he or she will ask you a few questions like when did you first observe the tick on your dog, what signs and symptoms has your dog been displaying, how long from observing the tick bite did the symptoms start etc. Your vet will conduct a thorough examination of your pup’s fur, and identify if there are any ticks remaining on your dog. They may also have to shave certain regions if your dog has a thick fur coat. Once the tick has been removed, your vet will most likely send the tick for a species examination to identify the exact disease that your dog is suffering from.

Your vet may also conduct a few basic blood tests, x-rays as well as urinary analysis. The abnormal findings would be a low number of platelets, anemia as well as abnormally high levels of white blood cell count. If your dog is still in the early stages of the disease, the white blood cell count might be low. However, if your dog is in the late stages of the disease, the white blood cell count would be elevated.

The biochemical tests will show reduced protein levels, abnormality in the calcium levels, abnormalities in the electrolyte, liver and kidney values.

What is the confirmatory test for Rocky Mountain spotted fever?

The test used to confirm the presence of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the in direct immunofluorescence assay test. To conduct this test, two samples of your dog’s blood will be required, one which is obtained at the time of illness and second blood sample which is obtained a few weeks later. The diagnosis is made on the basis of increase in production of antibodies between the first and second samples. In the first sample, the antibody titer would still be low because the infection would be in the initial stages. However, in the second samples the antibody titer would be much higher, a two-to-four-fold increase is expected in the antibody levels.

The other tests for RMSF are PCR or spinal fluid top. However, these tests are less sensitive compared to immunofluorescence assay test.

Treatment options for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs

The primary treatment for RMSF involves the antibiotic Doxycycline or Tetracycline administered over a period of two to three weeks. Doxycycline is generally administered for 7 to 20 days depending on the dose administered. While tetracycline is administered for a period of 14 to 21 days. It is not advisable to administer these drugs to young puppies or to pregnant females. Depending on the severity of the case, your dog may or may not require hospitalization. Your dog may also need corticosteroids to reduce any inflammation which may have occurred.

Most dogs start to respond to the treatment within 1 to 2 days. The sooner the treatment is started, the better the chances of recovery of your dog. If this disease is left untreated or ignored, it can be fatal to your dog.

Your dog may need hospitalization if he or she is showing lethargic behavior along with loss of appetite. Hospitalization may also be needed if the dog is showing signs of organ failure, or if supportive therapy is needed like administration of intravenous fluids. Once your pup become stable, he or she will be discharged and the rest of the treatment can be continued at home.

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Rocky mountain spotted fever in dogs

Prevention of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

As it has previously been said, prevention is better than cure. Now that you know the months when the tics are most prevalent, be very careful during those months and follow the following instructions to keep ticks away from your dogs

Keep your house, furniture, dog shed, garage as well as yard tick free. You can use pesticides for this. However, consult with the veterinarian regarding which pesticide is safe for use around your dog. For in house cleaning, you can use diatomaceous earth the details of which I have discussed in this blog post

You can make an anti-tick spray or even anti-tick collars for your dog.

Regularly bathe your dog in an anti-tick shampoo

Check out these 32 home remedies as well and prevention measures to keep ticks away from your dog, your house as well as your life.

There are certain over-the-counter medications available to prevent tick infection in dogs. However, always consult your veterinarian before going for over-the-counter medicine.

If you observe a tick on your dog’s fur, be very cautious while pulling it out. Always wear a pair of latex gloves before you go anywhere near the tick as there is a chance that the tick might bite you as well. Remember to remove the entire tick from the body of your dog including the head.

 Is there a chance that humans may get affected by this disease?

If your dog gets infected by the Rocky Mountain spotted fever from a tick, your dog will not be able to pass it to you or any human. However, if the tick that is carrying the causative organisms Rickettsia, infects the dog and then goes and bites the human, then the person can get infected with Rocky Mountain spotted fever is just like their dog. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RMSF is considered as one of the deadliest tick diseases in America. The treatment model for humans is pretty similar to the one used in dogs. Again, if the disease is left untreated, it can become fatal for humans as well

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Some final thoughts

As dog guardians we always worry about our kids. However, with RMSF there is another major problem. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be transmitted from your dog to you i.e. humans. Therefore, it is a risk not only to your dog but to you as well. Thus, keeping ticks out of your life should be of top priority. Has your dog ever suffered from a tick bite? What did you do with your condition? What was your veterinarian’s advice and the treatment plan? Let me know in the comment section below. If there is any dog care story or anecdotes you wish to share with everyone, feel free to contact me on my social media channels. I will be happy to share your story with the world.

 See you in my next blog post

Shruti

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Rocky mountain spotted fever in dogs