Are ticks dangerous to dogs

Are ticks dangerous to dogs?

You may have heard that ticks can affect humans. In fact, in the United States, they are second to mosquitoes in spreading disease to humans. But did you know that they can also be dangerous to dogs? Keep reading to learn about common tick-borne diseases that affect dogs and how to keep your pooch safe.

Are you concerned about your pet?

Book a video consultation with an experienced veterinarian within minutes.

What are ticks?

Ticks are arachnids, similar to spiders. They have eight legs and flat oval bodies that swell with blood when they eat. They feed on the blood of all kinds of animals: birds, deer, dogs, and humans too.

If you have seen ticks before, you know that they are very small. Adult ticks are just the size of an apple seed. However, feeding on a host will increase their size exponentially.

Common Diseases Caused by Ticks

Ticks spread disease by passing bacteria, viruses, and parasites to their host. Some of the symptoms of a tick-borne illness include fever, headaches, chills, and muscle aches.


Anaplasmosis is a disease that occurs in dogs and is transmitted by ticks. Infection is caused by either the bacteria Anaplasma platys or A. phagocytophila.

A dog with anaplasmosis will have a decrease in platelets and problems with blood clotting. It may happen cyclically every few weeks, often referred to as cyclic thrombocytopaenia.

Symptoms of anaplasmosis in dogs include lethargy, weakness, and anemia (you might notice pale gums). The dog's skin may also be bruised, and he may experience loss of appetite, weight loss, and fever.


Another tick-transmitted disease in dogs is babesiosis. If a dog is infected with a babesia organism, they may have several clinical signs, including severe anemia and sudden collapse with systemic shock.

An affected dog may also have dark urine, fever, weakness, pale mucous membranes, swollen lymph nodes, depression, and an enlarged spleen.


This disease is transmitted by an infected tick that bites a dog. Signs of ehrlichiosis can be divided into three stages: acute, sub-clinical, and clinical or chronic.

The acute phase consists of fever, respiratory distress, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, and bleeding disorders. Occasionally, there may be neurological disturbances.

Then, the sub-clinical phase represents a stage where the organism is present, but it is not causing symptoms. The only way to know that the dog is infected is by blood analysis.

Finally, chronic ehrlichiosis occurs when the dog's immune system is not able to eliminate the organism. They can develop, as a consequence, bleeding episodes, anemia, eye problems, lameness, and neurological problems.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is perhaps the most commonly known tick-transmitted disease. However, many dogs can have it and show no signs of it. Some common symptoms are fever, loss of appetite, painful and swollen joints, lameness, swollen lymph nodes, and lethargy.

If this disease is left untreated, it can affect the kidneys, the heart, and the nervous system. Other disorders can be facial paralysis and seizure disorders.

Where do ticks live?

Ticks can be found in many regions around the world. They tend to be higher in woody and grassy areas where their food sources live, including deer, birds, rabbits, lizards, squirrels, mice, and other rodents. They can also be found on beaches and urban areas.

If you have a yard at home, ticks can settle down in overgrown patches, woodpiles, and bird feeders. Whenever you are playing, gardening, or doing yard work, you could be exposed to a tick. Take the necessary precautions to avoid getting bit.

And, as we mentioned above, they will not only bite your pets, they can also bite humans and transmit a long list of diseases.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Getting Ticks

Preventing a dog from being exposed to ticks is very hard. They can attach to the dog when they are on a walk, hiking, or playing outdoors.

The best way to prevent problems with ticks is to examine your dog and use tick control products. Your vet will advise you about the best product for prevention and if there are any common diseases in your area to be aware of.

If you have a tick problem in your yard, consider treating the outdoor environment with safe products. Keep the lawn mowed. Mulch, wood chips, and gravel can also help decrease the migration of ticks into yards.

After your dog has been outside, check them for ticks on their paws and body. If you see one, remove it immediately. You can do it by pulling with steady and firm pressure. After removing the tick, clean the area with antibacterial soap and wash your hands thoroughly.

Remember, if you have any questions about ticks, what products to use for prevention, or if you believe that your dog has been infected by ticks, call your vet for guidance.

Read more:

How to Protect Your Cat from Ticks

Symptoms and Treatment of Mites in Dogs

Common Skin Parasites in Dogs

Need to speak with a veterinarian regarding your concerns about ticks or another condition?

Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.

Are you concerned about your pet?

Book a video consultation with an experienced veterinarian within minutes.

Book Video Consultation
  • Low-cost video vet consultations, 24 hours a day
  • Experienced, licensed vets
  • Over 500,000 satisfied pet owners

More articles about Dog