7 Facts About Deadly Tick-Borne Diseases

By PetMD Editorial on Mar. 10, 2015

Ticks are nasty parasites that can harm both people and pets. These pests transmit infectious diseases that can lead to fatigue, muscle soreness, fever, paralysis and even death.

Get the facts on some of the most common tick-borne diseases and make sure to protect your pet year-round with a prescription flea and tick preventative.

Fact 1: It takes at least 36 hours for a tick to transmit Lyme disease.

In most cases, a tick must be attached for 36-48 hours or more before Lyme disease-causing bacteria can be transmitted.

It’s important to check your dog regularly for ticks after outdoor playtime and walks. If you find a tick, swiftly remove it and watch your dog for symptoms.

Fact 2: Babesiosis targets a dog's red blood cells and causes anemia.

Signs of babesiosis in dogs are typically severe, including pale gums, depression, dark-colored urine, fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Fact 3: The connection between Lyme disease and ticks wasn't proven until 1981.

Although it was first recognized in 1975, researchers didn’t prove the connection until the next decade. Willy Burgdorfer, PhD, was the scientist who made the discovery.

Fact 4: The neurotoxin that causes tick paralysis is temperature sensitive.

If dogs are active or overheated, the disease will spread more quickly. Dogs recovering from tick paralysis should be kept in a cool, quiet environment.

Fact 5: Your dog is much more likely to get Lyme disease than you.

According to the Lyme Disease Association, dogs are 50 percent more likely to get Lyme disease than humans.

The disease is also usually first recognized in dogs before it is recognized in humans living in a particular area.

Fact 6: Colorado Tick Fever is found in elevations of 4,000 to 10,500 feet.

Colorado Tick Fever is found in Rocky Mountain States from elevations of 4,000 to 10,500 feet.

A virus transmitted by the Rocky Mountain wood tick causes this disease. The most common symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches and feeling tired.

Fact 7: An island town once voted to remove all deers to control Lyme disease.

In the 1990s, the town of Monhegan, Maine, voted to remove every single deer on the island in an effort to control Lyme disease.

The undertaking was successful and did reduce the tick population.


Centers for Disease Control


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Blackwell's Five-Minute Veterinary Consult Clinical Companion

Lyme Disease Association

Center for Northern Woodlands Education

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