When Super Bird started showing symptoms of body discomfort and was panting excessively, her owners knew something was wrong. They took their 10-year-old terrier mix to see Dr. Bailey Pietsch, but the veterinarian did not immediately find any specific problems with her limbs or spine. The pup had a temperature of 104 degrees, though, so the next step Dr. Pietsch took to solve the mystery was checking Super Bird’s bloodwork.

Super Bird’s lab test showed she had anaplasma, a tickborne disease in which bacteria causes blood platelets to decrease. Platelets are what helps blood clot, so when a dog is infected, it not only experiences overall discomfort and malaise, it could even have nose bleeds or bruising.

Ticks are out any time the temperature is higher than 30 degrees, so they are a year-round threat to animals. “It takes just one tick bite to spread disease. The most common diseases we see from ticks in our area are Lyme disease and anaplasma,” said Pietsch. “Lyme disease is spread through deer ticks, so it is most prevalent in our area from November through February, when deer are most active. We occasionally see ehrlichia in our patients as well.”

Super Bird was very sick before Dr. Bailey Pietsch diagnosed and treated her for a tick borne disease.

Ticks produce a sticky substance to help them attach to an animal, she said. “They are ectoparasites: organisms that live on the outside of the animal and feed off of the animal’s blood.” Ticks don’t jump, and they don’t fall out of trees. “Ticks transfer to animals and people from long grasses or brushing against bushes.”

Once a tick has attached itself, it can take as few as four hours for disease to transmit. “A pet might limp on one leg and all of a sudden switch to a different leg, for example,” said Pietsch. “This is caused by the polyarthritis, or multiple joint inflammation, that many of these diseases cause. Pets might also have fevers, lethargy or decreased appetite. When a pet’s disease is not detected and treated, some tick illnesses can cause damage to the kidneys, liver and neurologic system.

“Unfortunately, they often don’t cause any discomfort while they’re attached, so you might not even notice one right away,” said Pietsch. “When they do attach themselves to a pet, removing them requires great care. You don’t want to just pull them off, because parts of the tick could be left inside the bite area. Veterinarians use special tools to remove ticks.”

A Wisconsin tick carts off a bit of an old lady’s ear. The tick wasn’t in the woman’s ear long enough to do harm.

Treating tickborne illness is relatively easy: The pet undergoes a long cycle of antibiotics. “We may also offer some anti-inflammatory medication or other types of supportive care,” said Pietsch. “What’s best, of course, is to address tickborne illness through prevention. We test dogs annually for tick diseases with a test that looks for heartworm, Lyme, ehrlichia and anaplasma.

After treatment, Super Bird was back to her old self and challenging her family to a game of billiards.

“We often recommend dogs be treated with Simparica Trio, because we have found it is the most effective flea and tick preventive. It is designed to kill a tick before it can infect the pet with Lyme disease, said Pietsch. “No product can guarantee it will kill a tick before spreading anaplasma or ehrlichia, but Simparica Trio is the best option we have for a fast tick kill time.”

Super Bird was successfully treated, and her lab tests show she is back to normal. She once again has the energy to amuse and delight her family with antics and cuddles.

For more information, visit https://greendalevillagevet.com/ or call 414-421-1800.