TBE in dogs: course and symptoms of the infection

Ticks can transmit other diseases in addition to Lyme disease. TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) is one of them. Both humans and dogs can get sick. There is still no vaccination against the dangerous virus. Therefore, it is all the more important to interpret the symptoms of TBE in dogs quickly and correctly.

Can dogs get TBE at all? The question is justified because in cats, for example, the viral infection seems to occur only in sporadic cases. Unfortunately, the dog’s immune system appears to be less well-armed against TBE. There is only a vaccine for humans, not for pets. It is all the more important to diagnose TBE in dogs quickly. Or even better: prevent illness.

What is TBE?

Tick-borne encephalitis, or TBE for short, is an inflammation of the brain that affects the meninges. An arbovirus causes it. In Germany, arboviruses are mainly transmitted by ticks. If a tick has previously bitten a small mammal infected with arboviruses, it can pass the viral disease on to your dog with the next bite.

TBE is transmitted directly from the tick bite through the parasite’s saliva. This means that removing the tick as quickly as possible – unlike in the case of Lyme disease – cannot prevent your dog from developing TBE.

Symptoms of TBE in dogs

Good news first: TBE is relatively rare in dogs. The likelihood of your dog becoming infected with TBE increases if a previous illness already weakens it. However, if your four-legged friend has a healthy immune system, the sensitivity to the virus is low.

However, you should see a veterinarian if you notice one or more of the following symptoms in your dog:

● high fever (up to 41 degrees Celsius)
● Behavioral problems such as apathy, hyperexcitability, or aggressiveness
● Seizures
● Tactile sensitivity and pain in the neck and head
● Paralysis of the limbs
● Gait disorders
● Squinting and constricted pupils

The incubation period averages ten days but can vary from a week to a month.

Treatment of TBE in dogs

Once the animal has become infected, TBE in dogs can be very serious and often ends fatally. Many dogs have to be euthanized within a few days. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the symptoms of TBE in dogs correctly and treat them as quickly as possible.

If your animal falls ill with a viral infection, it is often necessary to be admitted to a veterinary clinic. Because only possible cramps can be adequately treated and (artificial) nutrition secured. TBE in dogs, like Lyme disease, is also treated with antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. The use of cortisone is controversial among veterinarians.

An approved vaccine against TBE only exists for humans but not for dogs. Therefore, it is advisable to take precautions from the outset so that your four-legged friend does not contract the virus in the first place.

How to protect your dog from TBE
In Germany, the following federal states are among the risk areas for TBE:

● Baden-Wuerttemberg
● Bavaria
● Brandenburg
● Hesse
● Thuringia

About every 25th to 100th tick is a virus carrier. This may sound like a small probability, but if you live in one of these regions and spend a lot of time in fields and forests, you should protect your dog – and yourself too.

Various products such as tick collars and spot-on preparations are available from specialist retailers and veterinarians designed to protect your dog from tick bites—more and more repellents (repellents) with few side effects or on an entire plant basis. So you don’t necessarily have to expose your dog to the chemical club to keep ticks away from him. Discuss the effects and possible risks with your veterinarian before using the safe side.

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