In detail

TBE in dogs: course and symptoms of infection

In addition to Lyme disease, ticks can transmit other diseases. TBE (early summer meningoencephalitis) is one of them. Both humans and dogs can get it. There is still no vaccination protection against the dangerous virus. It is therefore all the more important to interpret the symptoms of TBE in dogs quickly and correctly. Vaccination protection for dogs against TBE is not yet available - Image: Shutterstock / Tyler Olson

Can dogs get TBE at all? The question is justified, because in cats, for example, the virus infection only appears in very rare cases. Unfortunately, the dog's immune system seems to be less well armed against TBE. A vaccine is only for people, but not for pets. It is all the more important to quickly diagnose TBE in dogs. Or even better: to prevent illness.

What is TBE?

Early summer meningoencephalitis, or TBE for short, is an inflammation of the brain that also affects the meninges. It is triggered by an arbovirus. Arboviruses in Germany 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 at the next bite.

TBE is transmitted directly at the tick bite through the parasite's saliva. This means that - unlike Lyme disease - removing the tick as quickly as possible cannot prevent your dog from developing TBE.

Symptoms of TBE in dogs

Good news in advance: TBE disease is relatively rare in dogs. Your dog is more likely to become infected with TBE if he has already been weakened by previous illness. 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 any of the following symptoms in your dog:

● high fever (up to 41 degrees Celsius)
● Behavioral problems such as apathy, hyperexcitability or aggressiveness
● seizures
● Sensitivity and pain in the neck and head
● limb paralysis
● Gait disorders
Squint and narrowed pupils

The incubation period averages ten days, but can vary between a week and a month.

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Treatment of TBE in dogs

Once the animal has become infected, FSME can unfortunately be very serious in the dog and often ends in death. Many dogs have to be put to sleep within a few days. It is therefore important to correctly recognize the symptoms of TBE in dogs and to act as quickly as possible.

If your animal is infected with the virus, hospitalization in a veterinary clinic is often necessary. Because only there can possible cramps be properly 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 TBE vaccine only exists for humans, but not for dogs. It is therefore advisable to take precautions from the outset so that your four-legged friend does not even get the virus.

How to protect your dog from TBE

The following federal states are among the risk areas for TBE in Germany:

● Bavaria
● Brandenburg
● Hessen
● Thuringia

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

In specialist shops and at the veterinarian, there are a variety of products such as tick collars and spot-on preparations that are designed to protect your dog from tick bites. In the meantime there are more and more repellents (repellents) with few side effects or on a completely plant basis. So you don't 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 use, however, to be sure.