Chronic Kidney Disease Risk In Dogs Increases With Tick Exposure

Dogs have no way of telling their owners about a tick infection, and if there are no tests done, prevention or treatment might be too late.

These parasites can spread diseases that threaten your family pets. A lone tick can carry multiple agents that can infect and cause life-threatening illnesses.

“The investigators found that dogs with 1 vector-borne disease had a 300% increased risk of developing kidney disease when Erlichia antibodies were present…”

But since dogs don't have ways to tell its owners about tick bites or infestations in their body, the responsibility of detecting these parasites lie on the humans. In some cases, dogs won't also show symptoms of an infection or illness until it's too late, hence experts advice that owners must undertake an annual health screening of their dogs for potential exposure to diseases due to ticks.

Studying The Health Of 800,000 Dogs

A recent study from the IDEXX Reference Laboratories revealed that dogs bitten by ticks with Borrelia burgdorferi infection raise their risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) by as much as 43 percent. Borrelia burgdorferi is an agent that causes Lyme disease in many types of animals, such as livestock and deer, and not just dogs.

Meanwhile, dogs exposed to ehrlichiosis due to tick bites have a whopping 300 percent risk of developing CKD. Ehrlichia in dogs manifest treatable symptoms like bruising, fever, joint pains and leg stiffness and lethargy. However, more serious cases can be harder to treat and could lead to neurological illnesses.

Experts from IDEXX analyzed data from over 800,000 dogs in the United States and learned that increased risks to CKD might not even show in some dogs. So, the agency came up with an IDEXX Snap 4DX Plus Test that includes a comprehensive tick and mosquito infection transmission analysis for pets. Ideally, this test must be done once a year at the vet clinic to properly monitor the health of your pooches.

RELATED: The Ultimate Dog Fleas and Ticks Survival Guide

How Does The IDEXX Test Work?

The IDEXX test, done through urinalysis and blood work, will show a blue dot if the dog is positive for either Borrelia burgdorferi or Ehrlichia infection. The vet can also monitor the dog's kidney function to detect signs of malfunction for early prevention.

Following a positive result, the vet may be able to discuss options with the dog owners on how to manage the health of their dogs with tick infections and kidney conditions. As with humans, treating diseases in its earliest stages can greatly improve the outcome, as well as extend the life expectancy of the dogs.

What Happens If A Dog Has Chronic Kidney Disease?

What Happens If A Dog Has Chronic Kidney DiseaseOne in 10 dogs is likely to develop a kidney disease in their lifetime, according to quoted studies in the Merck Veterinary Manual. When the kidneys start malfunctioning, a dog's body will have a hard time filtering blood and maintaining the right levels of red blood cells, processing wastes in the urine and the excretions, as well as balancing the water, acid and salt content in the body.

However, it's not easy to detect kidney malfunction in dogs. A few telling signs might include poor appetite, weight loss, lethargy, dehydration, foul breath with a chemical odor, frequent vomiting, oral ulcers and urinary incontinence.

But when kidney malfunction is undetected, it's also untreated, which then leads to the development of chronic kidney disease. CDK might also be accelerated if the dog has kidney stones and other conditions like cancer, leptospirosis, glomerulonephritis, and amyloidosis. It could also be an aging and genetic problem.

Unfortunately, there is no dialysis or kidney transplant treatment for dogs with severe kidney conditions, unlike in humans. To properly diagnose the condition, the vet may order a complete blood count, urinalysis, chemistry profile and diagnostic testing, apart from a physical examination. The best way to protect your beloved pet from CDK is early prevention.

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Rita has a Master's degree in Biomedical Sciences and has worked in many different research laboratories. As a long-time dog owner, she's been trying to apply her skills, expertise and experience in the scientific field to writing about dogs and providing science-based information for other dog owners.