Tick Borne-Disease Initiative



Tick-Borne Disease Initiative

Tick-borne disease is a growing threat to canine and human health. Disease occurs when ticks infected with a pathogen bite a dog or human and transmit the pathogen into the body. Many tick-borne pathogens infect dogs, and can also infect humans; a direct tick bite is required to transmit disease. The geographic distribution of ticks is spreading, and can change yearly by season and region of the United States. The outdoors is not the only area of risk, home infestations can also occur. The most important tick-borne diseases of dogs are Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Hepatozoonosis, Babesiosis, Bartonellosis, Hemotropic Mycoplasmosis, and Lyme disease. All can have serious health consequences, and infection rates have been on the rise over the past five years. The feeding time required for disease transmission from a tick to a dog or person can be as little as 3 – 6 hours!


Since the Tick-Borne Disease Initiative started in 2016, many exciting grants have been awarded. These grants address tick-borne disease by funding much-needed research to find new ways to prevent infections, and recognize, diagnose and treat tick-borne diseases before they become debilitating or even fatal to dogs. See below for a complete list of grants funded through this Initiative.

02386‐A: Surveillance of Hepatozoon americanum In Populations of the Gulf Coast Tick Vector
Principal Investigator: Andrea Varela‐Stokes, DVM, PhD; Mississippi State University
Total Grant Amount: $12,960; Grant Period: 12/1/2017 ‐ 11/30/2019

02383: Identifying Cellular Mechanisms of Inflammation During Canine Tick‐Borne Diseases
Principal Investigator: Christine Petersen, DVM, PhD; University of Iowa
Total Grant Amount: $207,526; Grant Period: 9/1/2017 ‐ 8/31/2019

02284-A:  Lyme Disease in Dogs: Prevalence, Clinical Illness, and Prognosis
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jason Stull, VMD, PhD; Ohio State University
Total Grant Amount:  $14,148.00; Grant Period:  7/1/2016 - 6/30/2018

02285-A:  Thrombocytopenia and Occult Vector-Borne Disease in Greyhound Dogs: Implications for Clinical Cases and Blood Donors
Principal Investigator: Dr. Linda Kidd, DVM, PhD; Western University of Health Sciences
Total Grant Amount:  $12,960.00; Grant Period:  7/1/2016 - 6/30/2017

02295-A:  The Role of Lymphocytes in Canine Monocytic Ehrlichiosis
Principal Investigator: Dr. Mary Anna Thrall, DVM, MS; Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine
Total Grant Amount:  $15,000.00; Grant Period:  7/1/2016 - 12/31/2017

02287:  Enhanced Testing for the Diagnosis of Bartonellosis in Dogs
Principal Investigator: Dr. Edward B Breitschwerdt, DVM; North Carolina State University
Total Grant Amount:  $103,013.00; Grant Period:  8/1/2016 - 7/31/2018

02292:  Broad-Range Detection of Canine Tick-Borne Disease and Improved Diagnostics Using Next-Generation Sequencing
Principal Investigator: Dr. Pedro Paul Diniz, DVM, PhD; Western University of Health Sciences
Total Grant Amount:  $60,717.00; Grant Period:  9/1/2016 - 4/30/2018

1780: Defining the Mechanism by Which Ticks Locate Dogs in Order to Better Prevent Disease Transmission
Principal Investigator: Dr. Emma Natalie Ivy Weeks, PhD; University of Florida
Grant Amount: $104,867.31; Grant Period: 3/1/2013 - 2/28/2018


Kidd, L., Qurollo, B., Lappin, M., Richter, K., Hart, J. R., Hill, S., … Breitschwerdt, E. B. (2017). Prevalence of Vector-Borne Pathogens in Southern California Dogs With Clinical and Laboratory Abnormalities Consistent With Immune-Mediated Disease. J Vet Intern Med. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.14735

Trout Fryxell, R. T., Hendricks, B. M., Pompo, K., Mays, S. E., Paulsen, D. J., Operario, D. J., & Houston, A. E. (2017). Investigating the Adult Ixodid Tick Populations and Their Associated Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Rickettsia Bacteria at a Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Hotspot in Western Tennessee. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. https://doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2016.2091

Mays, S. E., Houston, A. E., & Trout Fryxell, R. T. (2016). Comparison of novel and conventional methods of trapping ixodid ticks in the southeastern U.S.A. Med Vet Entomol, 30(2), 123–134. https://doi.org/10.1111/mve.12160

Mays, S. E., Houston, A. E., & Trout Fryxell, R. T. (2016). Specifying Pathogen Associations of Amblyomma maculatum (Acari: Ixodidae) in Western Tennessee. J Med Entomol, 53(2), 435–440. https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjv238

Thank you to the sponsors of the Tick-Borne Disease Initiative!

      Champion Sponsor ($50,000+)


English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association & English Springer Spaniel Foundation
Ms. Kiki Courtelis

     Lead Sponsors ($25,000 - $49,999):

American Field Pointer Association
Retriever News / Entry Express 

     Charter Sponsors ($10,000 - $24,999):

American Shih Tzu Club, Inc.
Bearded Collie Club of America
Golden Retriever Foundation
Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc.
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc.
Greyhound Club of America
Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.
National Amateur Retriever Club
Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust
Rhodesian Ridgeback Charitable Foundation
TarTan Gordon Setter Club

     Sponsors ($2,500 - $9,999):

Afghan Hound Club of America, Inc.
American Brittany Club
American Field Setter Association
American Pointer Club
American Shih Tzu Club Charitable Trust
American Whippet Club, Inc.
Australian Terrier Club of America
Basset Hound Club of America
Border Terrier Club of America
Bull Terrier Club of America
Cyclone County Kennel Club of Ames, Inc.
Eastern German Shorthaired Pointer Club, Inc.
English Setter Association of America, Inc.
Field Spaniel Society of America
Great Pyrenees Club of America
Irish Wolfhound Club of America, Inc.
National Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association
Norwegian Elkhound Association of America, Inc.
Parson Russell Terrier Association of America
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America
Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America Charitable Trust
Portuguese Water Dog Foundation
Rottweiler Health Foundation
Samoyed Club of America Education & Research
Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, Inc.
Staffordshire Terrier Club of America, Inc.
Tibetan Terrier Club of America/Tibetan Terrier Health & Welfare Foundation
Treeing Walker Breeders & Fanciers Association
United States Australian Shepherd Foundation
Welsh Springer Spaniel Club of America, Inc.

Educational Resources


Fleas, Ticks, What's the Difference?
Speaker:  Dr. Chris Adolph, DVM, MS, DACVM (Parasitology), Veterinary Specialist, CAD Veterinary Specialty Operations, Zoetis Animal Health

Watch On Demand!

Tick Borne Infectious Diseases in North America: Clinical and Zoonotic Implications
Speaker: Dr. Edward B. Breitschwerdt, DVM, DACVIM, Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases, College of Veterinary Medicine, NCSU

Watch on Demand!


Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt, a specialist in internal medicine and infectious disease at North Carolina State University has received funding from the AKC Canine Health Foundation for various infectious diseases including Bartonella spp. In this podcast, Dr. Breitschwerdt describes several common tick borne illness, including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme Disease. Dr. Breitschwerdt also shares the symptoms to watch for and what treatments are available.
Listen to the podcast >>>


Luck, Labor, and a Labrador Retriever: A Veterinarian’s Journey into Bartonella Research. An interview with Dr. Ed Breitschwerdt conducted by Sam Lin, July 2017.

Protecting Dogs Against Ticks. Featured in Today’s Breeder – Issue 95, courtesy of Purina Pro Plan.

Lyme Disease. Learn how your investment in the Tick-Borne Disease Initiative is funding a grant that aims to improve prevention and control methods, benefiting both dogs and humans.

Tick-Borne Disease: Prevalence, Prevention and Treatment. Read CHF's whitepaper to learn more about ticks, tick-borne diseases, and how to keep your dog safe.

Fundraising for Tick-Borne Diseases in Dogs Gets a Boost from AKC. Read about ticks and how tick-borne disease can impact your dog. Your support can help further research in this field, and in 2016, all donations to CHF's Tick-Borne Disease Initiative will be matched by the AKC.

Fighting Tick-Borne Disease in Dogs. Read about Felton, who was diagnosed with ehrlichiosis, and how you can make an impact in fighting tick-borne disease.

Canine Tick-Borne Disease. Lean about ticks, the diseases they can transmit and how to keep your dog safe.

Regional Prevalence of Tick-Borne Disease

Distribution of tick-borne disease is associated with the species of tick endemic to a given region. Distribution of tick species, prevalence of ticks within a region and the prevalence of infectious pathogens they carry is not stable and fluctuates on a seasonal basis depending on weather, rainfall and climate. For this reason monitoring of tick-borne disease is a dynamic, ongoing process.

Keep Your Dog Safe from Tick-Borne Disease

  • Learn about the ticks and diseases in your area.
  • Use effective prevention – consult your local veterinarian. Be aware that tick preventatives do not prevent disease transmission; they reduce risk by reducing the tick burden on the dog. Always use canine-approved preventatives only.
  • Most common clinical signs: local inflammation, lethargy, lack of appetite, shifting leg lameness, fever, and spontaneous bruising.
  • If your dog spends time outdoors, check them daily for ticks. Pay close attention to the head, ears, shoulders, and upper leg areas.
  • Never spray human tick repellent on your dog as these chemicals are toxic if ingested.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about annual testing for tick-borne disease. Testing is fast and effective.
  • If your dog displays signs of tick-borne disease, they may initially test negative. This is because tests that measure for the presence of antibodies against the pathogen take time to reach measurable levels in the blood. Your veterinarian may test twice using an initial “acute” sample followed by a “convalescent” sample about two weeks later. Alternately, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) diagnostic tests for the actual pathogens.

Species of Ticks That Carry Infectious Pathogens

  • American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
  • Deer Tick (or Black-legged Tick) (Ixodes scapularis)
  • Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus)
  • Gulf Coast Tick (Amblyomma maculatum)
  • Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)
  • Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni)
  • Spinose Ear Tick (Otobius megnini)
  • Western Black-legged Tick (Ixodes pacificus)

For a longer, more detailed look at ticks and tick-borne disease, please refer to our whitepaper.



Help Future Generations of Dogs

Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.

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