In memory of Bauernhoffen's Thunder
2 September 1997- 2 June 2000
There are four major tick-borne diseases that affect dogs in the United States: ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme Disease. They are all dangerous and most can be fatal unless diagnosed in time and treated aggressively.
On the 2nd of June, 2000, I lost my German Shepherd Dog, Thunder, to the ravages of chronic Neorickettsia risticii, once known as Erhlichia risticii. He was not even three when he died, the best dog I've ever owned, and I watched him die by inches over the course of a year and a half. Here in the deep South, where ticks are right at home, no one recognized tick disease until it was too late to save him.
In the years since he died, veterinarians have become more aware of tick-borne disease. Sadly, however, many of them never think to test for it. Often enough, they don't believe it's a problem in their area, never considering that our dogs travel with us to all sorts of places or may have come from an area where infection is rampant. Rescue dogs especially may be at risk but TBD can happen almost anywhere, certainly anywhere the ticks that carry these diseases exist. So, to make the best decisions for our dogs, if we know they have TBD or we only suspect it, it's still up to us to inform ourselves.
Pam Barbe, who's been through the hell of TBD with her Samoyeds more than once, said to me long ago, "You are your dog's only advocate. If you won't fight for him, who will?" If you seriously suspect your dog has a TBD, do not listen if you're told he can't have one and you'd just be wasting your money on testing. It's your dog and your money. If your vet won't work with you, find one who will. They are out there and they do care but sometimes you have to find them. The search is worth it. TBD can be very dangerous if it is not diagnosed in time.
I've been there and I can tell you that until you've seen your own dog look up at you with those bright eyes which are all that's left to show he's hardly begun his life; until you've seen his fur matted and wet with the blood constantly seeping through his skin; until you've seen your magnificent young animal reduced to one that can no longer work or play or even walk without difficulty, you can't even come close to understanding how cruel tick-borne disease can be.
With luck and some knowledge, you won't have to find out. I hope you never do. Read on and I'll try to supply some of the knowledge.
A great deal of whatever good and useful information there is on this site is attributable to Dr. Tom Beckett who has treated more dogs with TBD over the years than he probably cares to think about. I are endlessly grateful for his help.
TBD in a Nutshell: an article, an overview, you might call it a short version of the site.
Ehrlichiosis: E. canis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Neorickettsia risticii, A. platys, E. ewingii.
Babesiosis: B. canis, B. gibsoni
General references: pain control, vaccination, links to general veterinary reference websites
and articles by Dr. Tom Beckett.
An Important Note to the Reader
What you'll find here is general information intended to give you a better idea of what TBD is
and what it can do. It comes from my experience, my research on the web and years of membership on an email list devoted to tick-borne disease in dogs. I am not a vet, nor do I pretend to be one.
References are linked in the text and in the column to the right.
Any errors of fact or interpretation are unintentional. If you see something that you believe needs correction, fix the address below by removing the spaces then email me and we'll talk about it.
Gil. Ash. blackgsd @ gmail.com
10 April 2000 - 23 March 2008