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Can Ticks Cause Seizures in Dogs?

Updated: Jun 14

Ticks causing seizures in Dogs

Can Ticks Cause Seizures in Dogs?

Ticks are not just pesky insects; they can transmit a range of diseases that pose serious risks to our dogs as well as ourselves. In this guide, we'll explore the potential link between ticks and seizures in dogs, as well as strategies for prevention and protection.

My Dog has Epilepsy: Can a Tick Bite Cause a Seizure?

For dog owners whose pets suffer from epilepsy, the question of whether a tick bite can trigger a seizure is a valid concern.

If your dog has epilepsy and gets a tick bite, it's understandable to be concerned about the potential impact of the bite on their seizure activity. While tick bites themselves are unlikely to directly trigger seizures in dogs with epilepsy, there are several factors to consider in this scenario.

  1. Tick-Borne Diseases: The primary concern with tick bites in dogs with epilepsy is the potential transmission of tick-borne diseases. Tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, lethargy, joint pain, and in some cases, neurological complications. While there is limited research on this specific topic, anecdotal evidence suggests that certain tick-borne diseases may contribute to seizures in dogs, particularly those with pre-existing neurological conditions. If your dog with epilepsy contracts a tick-borne disease, it could exacerbate their existing seizure disorder or lead to additional health complications.

  2. Stress and Anxiety: The presence of a tick on your dog's body may cause stress or anxiety, which could potentially trigger a seizure in some dogs with epilepsy. Stress is recognized as a common trigger for seizures in epileptic dogs, so any situation that induces anxiety or discomfort may increase the risk of seizure activity.

  3. Reaction to Tick Removal: If your dog has a seizure disorder, it's essential to handle any medical procedures, including tick removal, with care. While the act of removing a tick is unlikely to directly cause a seizure, the stress or discomfort associated with the procedure could potentially trigger seizure activity in some dogs. It's important to approach tick removal gently and calmly to minimise stress and reduce the risk of triggering a seizure.


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The Threat of Tick-Borne Diseases

Common tick species such as the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) are known carriers of diseases that can lead to seizures in dogs. Ticks can transmit pathogens that affect the central nervous system, leading to inflammation and neurological symptoms. In some cases, this inflammation may trigger seizures in susceptible individuals, including dogs with epilepsy. However, further studies are needed to fully understand the relationship between tick-borne diseases and seizures in dogs.

Tick borne diseases are why it is critical to have a diligent routine of tick checks for your dogs and yourselves during tick season. You can learn more about how to conduct a thorough daily tick check here. Some of the most common tick-borne diseases in dogs include:

1. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to dogs through the bite of infected ticks. Symptoms can vary but may include lameness, joint pain, fever, and lethargy. Early detection and treatment are essential for preventing long-term complications.

2. Babesiosis

Babesiosis is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by protozoan parasites transmitted by ticks. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, pale gums, and in severe cases, organ failure. Treatment typically involves a combination of antiprotozoal medications and supportive care.

3. Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is caused by several species of bacteria within the genus Ehrlichia, transmitted primarily by the brown dog tick and the lone star tick. Symptoms can vary depending on the stage of infection but may include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and bleeding disorders.

4. Tick Paralysis

Tick paralysis is caused by toxins released by certain species of ticks as they feed on a host. Symptoms include weakness, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, paralysis. Prompt removal of the tick is crucial for preventing further progression of the paralysis.

5. Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum and is transmitted to dogs through the bite of infected ticks, primarily the black-legged tick and the western black-legged tick. Symptoms may include fever, joint pain, lethargy, and decreased appetite.

6. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii and is transmitted primarily by the American dog tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick, and the brown dog tick. Symptoms can include fever, lethargy, joint pain, vomiting, and neurological signs.
7. Hepatozoonosis

Hepatozoonosis is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Hepatozoon, transmitted to dogs through the ingestion of infected ticks. Symptoms may include fever, muscle pain, weight loss, and lethargy. Severe cases can lead to muscle wasting and joint deformities.


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Preventing Tick-Borne Illnesses

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your dog from tick-borne diseases and potential seizure triggers. Here are some tips to help minimise the risk:

1. Use Tick Prevention Products

Regular use of tick prevention products such as spot-on treatments, collars, and oral medications can help repel ticks and prevent them from attaching to your dog. Natural alternatives exist and can be used to aid in the prevention of ticks.

2. Conduct Regular Tick Checks

Perform thorough tick checks on your dog after outdoor activities, paying close attention to areas where ticks are commonly found, such as the ears, neck, and underarms. Promptly remove any ticks you find using fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool. Get into the habit of performing daily tick checks on your dog. Find out best practices for tick checks from our article here. Learn how to safely remove a tick from our article here.

3. Maintain a Tick-Free Environment

Keep your yard tidy by regularly mowing the lawn, removing leaf litter, and trimming overgrown vegetation. Consider using landscaping techniques to create a tick barrier around your property, such as gravel or wood chip mulch.

4. Consult Your Veterinarian

Talk to your veterinarian about the prevalence of tick-borne diseases in your area and the most effective prevention methods for your dog. Your vet can recommend specific products and provide guidance on vaccination protocols where applicable.

Prevalence of Tick-Borne Diseases in Different Regions

The prevalence of tick-borne diseases can vary depending on geographical location and environmental factors. Certain regions may have a higher incidence of specific tick-borne illnesses, so it's essential to be aware of the risks in your area and take appropriate precautions.

Conclusion: Practice Good Tick Prevention Techniques

In summary, while the direct link between tick bites and seizures in dogs is still being researched, it's crucial for dog owners to remain vigilant in protecting their pets from tick-borne diseases. Check out our blog on how to perform best practices for tick checks and tick removal. implementing preventative measures and staying informed about the risks, you can help keep your canine companion safe and healthy.

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