Lyme disease is not the only disease that can be passed on to your dog via a tick bite. Tularemia is another highly fatal condition that your dog can acquire from a tick bite. Carried by Lone Star, American dog, and Rocky Mountain spotted ticks, it is seen across the United States. As a responsible dog owner, it's important that you're aware of the signs of tularemia and what you should do if you suspect your dog has it.
What are the signs of tularemia?
Some dogs begin showing symptoms only days after being bitten by a tick carrying the tularemia bacteria, while others don't show symptoms for a few weeks. The most noticeable symptoms include:
- A sudden fever
- Refusal to eat or drink
- Pain in the abdomen (your dog may yelp or snap at you if you touch his abdomen)
- Yellowing of the eyes and gums (jaundice)
- Extreme lethargy
- White ulcers on the tongue and cheeks
If you notice any of these symptoms after your dog has been bitten by a tick, contact your vet immediately. They will likely want to see your dog promptly, since your dog's chances of survival increase when treatment is administered early on.
How can you protect yourself if you suspect your dog has tularemia?
The scary thing about tularemia is that your dog can pass it on directly to you. While prognosis in humans is pretty good and most recovery fully with antibiotics, you still want to do all you can to prevent contracting this infection. You can get tularemia if your dog's saliva, blood, or feces come into contact with your mucous membranes or any damaged skin. To protect yourself, make sure you:
- Wear disposable gloves when handling your dog
- Disinfect all of your dog's bowls, toys, and other items with a bleach and water mixture
- Avoid letting your dog lick you
- Use a long-handled shovel when picking up and disposing of your dog's feces
Once your dog begins antibiotic treatment, the chances of passing on the infection will decrease significantly.
How will your vet treat tularemia?
As previously stated, the main treatment for tularemia will be antibiotics. Severely ill dogs often need to be hospitalized at a clinic like All Care Pet Hospital of Harbour Point for several days while treatment is begun. Fluids may be needed to keep your dog hydrated. Dogs who are treated early often recover, but those for whom treatment is delayed may succumb to the illness.