Dogs can, in rare cases, contract Lyme disease, hepatozoonosis, and anaplasmosis by ingesting a tick. There’s also a possibility of infection with babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and early summer meningoencephalitis.

However, eating a tick is less hazardous compared to a tick bite as the pathogens can only cause harm if they enter the bloodstream. When a tick bites, the viruses and bacteria are instantly exposed to the blood. But for them to infect the dog, they must first withstand the stomach acid when the dog eats the tick.

Therefore, problems rarely arise in healthy dogs, and not all ticks carry serious pathogens.

If you’re concerned or uncertain, please click here to start a live chat with a veterinarian. In the meantime, let’s learn about the 6 most common diseases that ticks can transmit in exceptional circumstances.


Lyme Disease

If ticks contain the bacteria called “Borrelia,” then these can be transmitted to dogs. However, a simple bite is usually not enough for this.

As a rule, ticks must suck on the dog for at least 16 hours. Oral transmission by eating a tick is rare but is said to occur.

In addition, it is special that not every infection with the bacteria automatically leads to Lyme disease. The symptoms can also occur very delayed.

It is not atypical for the first signs to occur weeks or even months after the tick has been swallowed. Typical examples include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Mild fever
  • Inflamed joints
  • Dog refuses food
  • Dog breathes heavily
  • Stiff walking style
  • Fatigue

Often, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. However, in some circumstances, it can persist and requires permanent treatment.

Lyme disease in dogs can be diagnosed through several methods – including:

Clinical signs and history: A veterinarian will consider the dog’s symptoms, such as fever, lameness, joint swelling, and decreased appetite, and ask about the dog’s exposure to tick-infested areas.

Blood tests: The most commonly used tests to diagnose Lyme disease in dogs are the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay) and the Western Blot. The ELISA test detects antibodies to the Lyme disease bacterium in the dog’s blood, while the Western Blot confirms a positive ELISA result.

Urinalysis: In some cases, a veterinarian may also check for changes in the dog’s urine, such as increased protein levels, that may indicate Lyme disease.

Joint fluid analysis: If the dog has joint swelling, a veterinarian may also examine the fluid in the affected joints to look for signs of Lyme disease.

It’s important to note that a positive test result does NOT necessarily mean the dog has active Lyme disease. False positive results can occur, and some dogs with a positive test result may never show any symptoms of the disease. A veterinarian can help interpret the results and determine the best course of action for the dog.

Summary

If a dog was eating a tick that carried Borrelia bacteria, then a dog can possibly become infected with it. Visible symptoms usually occur weeks later. It is noticeable here that dogs get a fever, and their running style becomes somewhat stiffer.

Read also: From Floppy to Pointed – A Guide to Border Collie Ear Types


Hepatozoonosis

If ticks contain various parasites of the Hepatozoon species, these can be transmitted to the dog. The infection caused by this is called “hepatozoonosis.”

After transmission, in almost all cases, for the first 2-4 weeks, initially, nothing happens. The following circumstances usually transmit it:

  • Intensive contact with foxes
  • Vacation in Southern Europe
  • Dog eats mouse with tick
  • Grooming of other dogs
  • Eating a bird with ticks
The brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus isolated on white background. Dog risk for many conditions including babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, rickettsiosis, and hepatozoonosis

What makes this disease special is that it is transmitted exclusively by eating the tick. A bite is not enough in this case. Typical symptoms of it are:

  • Sporadic fever
  • Listlessness
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Dog exhausts quickly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic diarrhea

In most cases, the infectious disease can be diagnosed by testing the blood. Unfortunately, depending on the type, it can rarely be cured.

The course of the disease varies from dog to dog. In most cases, the disease returns only during periods of the weakened immune system.

Summary

If dogs eat and swallow a tick, then transmission of hepatozoonosis can occur. This infectious disease is caused by parasites and is only partially curable. The symptoms also often appear only after several weeks.

Read Also: Some useful Routines to keep your Dog healthy


TBE

TBE is the abbreviation for Tick-borne encephalitis. It is a viral disease that can be found in the saliva of ticks. It is a viral disease that can be found in the saliva of ticks but not in fleas!

In most cases, TBE is transmitted through a bite. However, if the viruses are superior to stomach acid, then eating the tick can also be the trigger.

To what extent this disease is a problem in your region, you can simply ask your veterinarian or your family doctor. The most common signs here include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sudden paralysis
  • Dog holds head crooked
  • Coordination problems
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Seizures
  • Partial fever

After about a week after infection, the first symptoms usually become noticeable here. Dogs with a strong immune system also frequently form antibodies against it.

A cure is rarely successful here. Rather, the symptoms are treated in such a way that the dog is able to live a symptom-free life.

In the meantime, there are already the first vaccines against it. How reliable these are, however, is still unclear. Nevertheless, prevention is the best option for TBE.

Summary

If dogs eat a tick this contains certain viruses, then in rare cases, TBE can also be transmitted. It is typical that dogs get difficulties with coordination or even suddenly convulse.


Anaplasmosis

Among other things, ticks can also contain bacteria of the genus “Anaplasma.” These can then be transmitted to the dog and lead to “anaplasmosis.”

This infectious disease primarily affects the white blood cells and spreads relatively quickly throughout the body via the bloodstream. Here is some interesting data:

The first symptoms occur as early as 1-3 weeks after transmission. The stronger the dog’s immune system, the less likely it is that the disease will be transmitted by eating the tick.

The first signs here include high fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Symptoms can also vary depending on the specific type of bacteria. Other examples include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Digestive problems
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Bleeding in the mouth
  • Sluggish breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Nosebleeds


A blood test is sufficient for diagnosis. Fortunately, the chances of a cure are very good in this case. Antibiotics over a period of 3 weeks are usually sufficient.

If there are no symptoms, then usually, no therapy is necessary. In this case, you should consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.

Summary

In rare cases, dogs can also develop anaplasmosis from eating a tick. This bacterial infectious disease is very common, but rarely dangerous. The chances of treatment and cure are very high here.


Ehrlichiosis

If ticks contain bacteria of the Ehrlichia species, then the transmission can result in “Ehrlichiosis.” This is a bacterial infectious disease.

Colloquially it is also known as “tick fever.” For unexplained reasons, the consequences are said to be particularly severe in the Doberman and German Shepherd.

It is transmitted primarily by the bite of the tick. For a successful transmission, the tick must usually suck blood for more than 3 hours.

Under certain circumstances, however, the infectious disease can also be transmitted by eating the tick. In practice, however, this should occur rather rarely.

The first signs of it often occur between 1-3 weeks after infection. Initially, there is predominantly fever. Other classic signs are:

  • Dog seems listless
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • bleeding of the gums
  • Apathy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Dog gets nosebleeds
  • Breathing problems


Carrier is mostly the “brown dog tick,” which fortunately does not survive permanently in Germany. In southern Europe, however, it occurs more frequently.

The earlier the life-threatening ehrlichiosis is diagnosed, the better the chances of treatment. Primarily antibiotics and blood transfusions are used for this purpose.

Summary

Eating a tick can, under certain circumstances, lead to the development of “ehrlichiosis.” It can usually be recognized by chronic digestive problems as well as a strong fever. The sooner action is taken, the better the dog’s chances of survival.


Babesiosis

Babesiosis is also colloquially known as “dog malaria.” It is transmitted when the ticks contain parasites of the Babesia species.

These parasites attack the red blood cells so that the proportion of them increasingly decreases. The first symptoms are then usually seen after 1-3 weeks:

  • Dog is not hungry
  • Sudden collapse
  • Dark urine
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Dog has fever
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Pale gums
  • Dog

The transmission of them takes place primarily by bite. Partially, however, the parasites are also said to be transmitted by eating and swallowing the ticks.

If left untreated, “babesiosis” often leads to death; To counteract the anemia, primarily medications, as well as blood transfusions, are used.

In addition, the treatment also depends on the type of Babesia with which the dog has been infected. Here you should seek professional help for treatment.

Summary

If dogs have to fight “babesiosis,” then it can be fatal if left untreated. It is usually transmitted by a bite. In rare cases, however, the parasites can also enter the bloodstream by eating the tick.


Final Thoughts

While it is possible for dogs to contract diseases like Lyme disease, hepatozoonosis, and TBE by ingesting a tick, it is a less common occurrence compared to a tick bite.

Eating a tick carries a lower risk of infection – as the pathogens must first withstand the dog’s stomach acid. However; not all ticks carry serious pathogens. It is essential to keep an eye out for symptoms like fever, lameness, joint swelling, decreased appetite, fatigue, and weight loss in case your dog has eaten a tick.

If you’re concerned or uncertain, it’s best to reach out to a veterinarian for a professional evaluation and diagnosis. It’s also important to note that a positive test result does not always indicate the presence of active disease, and a veterinarian can help interpret the results and determine the best course of action.

Read also: Why my Dog Keeps Peeing in the House at Night? | Possible Causes


Dr-Orika-Mosquera-Lopez

Dr. Orika Mosquera

Hello, I am Dr. Orika Mosquera Lopez graduated from the free university of colombia sectional Barranquilla as a doctor and surgeon. I work as a General Practitioner with Experience in the Emergency Department, Hospitalization and External Consultation. I love pets, i have 2 cats, Bagheera and Nhala and one Yorkshire Terrier called Princess. I care a lot about the well-being of my animals

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