Tick-Borne Disease Research Initiative


| Tick-Borne Disease Initiative | Research | Publications |

| Educational Resources | Webinars | Podcasts | Articles | Prevalence | Keep Your Dog Safe | Species of Ticks that Carry Infectious Pathogens |

| Sponsors of the 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.

02553: Targeted Next Generation Sequencing Panel for Comprehensive Testing of Vector-borne Pathogens
Principal Investigator: Rebecca Wilkes, DVM; Purdue University
Total Grant Amount: $103,245; Grant Period: 2/1/2019 - 1/31/2021

02528: Developing a Next Generation Sequencing Diagnostic Platform for Tickborne Diseases
Principal Investigator: Pedro Diniz, DVM, PhD; Western University of Health Sciences
Total Grant Amount: $120,983; Grant Period: 6/1/2018 - 11/30/2020

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 ‐ 1/31/2021

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 ‐ 12/31/2019

02284-A:  Lyme Disease in Dogs: Prevalence, Clinical Illness, and Prognosis
Principal Investigator: Jason Stull, VMD, PhD; Ohio State University
Total Grant Amount:  $14,148.00; Grant Period:  7/1/2016 - 6/30/2019

02285-A:  Thrombocytopenia and Occult Vector-Borne Disease in Greyhound Dogs: Implications for Clinical Cases and Blood Donors
Principal Investigator: 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: 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: Edward B Breitschwerdt, DVM; North Carolina State University
Total Grant Amount:  $103,013.00; Grant Period:  8/1/2016 - 7/31/2018
Read Dr. Breitschwerdt's research publication >>> 2018

02292:  Broad-Range Detection of Canine Tick-Borne Disease and Improved Diagnostics Using Next-Generation Sequencing
Principal Investigator: 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: Emma Natalie Ivy Weeks, PhD; University of Florida
Grant Amount: $104,867.31; Grant Period: 3/1/2013 - 9/30/2019 


  • 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. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 31(4), 1081–1090. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.14735
  • 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. Medical and Veterinary Entomology, 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. Journal of Medical Entomology, 53(2), 435–440. https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjv238
  • Neupane, P., Hegarty, B. C., Marr, H. S., Maggi, R. G., Birkenheuer, A. J., & Breitschwerdt, E. B. (2018). Evaluation of cell culture-grown Bartonella antigens in immunofluorescent antibody assays for the serological diagnosis of bartonellosis in dogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.15301
  • Neupane, P., Sevala, S., Balakrishnan, N., Marr, H., Wilson, J., Maggi, R., Birkenheuer, A., Lappin, M., Chomel, B., & Breitschwerdt, E. B. (2020). Validation of Bartonella henselae Western Immunoblotting for Serodiagnosis of Bartonelloses in Dogs. Journal of Clinical Microbiology.https://doi.org/10.1128/JCM.01335-19
  • 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 and Zoonotic Diseases, 17(8), 527–538. https://doi.org/10.1089/vbz.2016.2091


Educational Resources 

Dr. Diane Brown, DVM, PhD, DACVP, discusses the AKC Canine Health Foundation's Tick-borne Disease Initiative (starting 7:50) on AKCtv's Ask the Expert: Epilepsy and Tick-borne Disease. 

 Read the latest information about tick safety from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention


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. Diane Brown, CHF CEO, spoke with Pure Dog Talk in 2018 for this podcast on RESEARCHING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN TICKS AND CANCER.
Listen to the podcast >>>

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 >>>


Studies of Lyme Disease, Bartonellosis & American Canine Hepatazoonosis in Dog Focus on Prevalence & Understanding. Read this publication from our partners at Nestlé Purina PetCare.

A Cross-sectional Study of Vector-borne Pathogens in Canadian Dogs. Read this publication from our colleagues and CHF-funded investigators Drs. Evason and Stull.

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.

"The 24 states that contain counties with newly documented populations of deer ticks or Western black-legged ticks are Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin" -HealthDay Lyme-Bearing Ticks More Widespread in U.S. Than Thought


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.


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

Champion Sponsor ($50,000+)






Ms. Kiki Courtelis

Sponsors ($2,500+)

Afghan Hound Club of America, Inc.
Alaskan Malmute Club of America, Inc.
American Brittany Club
American Boxer Charitable Foundation
American Field Pointer Association
American Field Setter Association
American Pointer Club
American Shih Tzu Club Charitable Trust
American Shih Tzu Club, Inc.
American Whippet Club, Inc.
Australian Terrier Club of America
Basset Hound Club of America
Bearded Collie Club of America
Border Terrier Club of America
Bull Terrier Club of America
Clumber Spaniel Health Foundation
Cyclone County Kennel Club of Ames, Inc.
Eastern German Shorthaired Pointer Club, Inc.
English Setter Association of America, Inc.
Field Spaniel Society of America
German Shorthaired Pointer Club of America, Inc.
Golden Retriever Foundation
Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc.
Great Pyrenees Club of America
Greater Swiss Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc.
Greyhound Club of America

Health & Rescue Foundation of the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Club of America
Irish Setter Club of America Foundation, Inc.
Irish Wolfhound Club of America, Inc.
Keeshond Club of America,
Labrador Retriever Club, Inc.
National Amateur Retriever Club
National Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association
Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust
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 Inc.
Retriever News / Entry Express
Rhodesian Ridgeback Charitable Foundation
Rottweiler Health Foundation
Samoyed Club of America Education & Research
Scottish Terrier Club of America
Siberian Husky Club of America, Inc.
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America, Inc.
Staffordshire Terrier Club of America, Inc.
TarTan Gordon Setter Club
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.



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.

Learn How to Help

Connect With Us:
Get Canine Health News:
Please leave this field empty

© 2018 AKC Canine Health Foundation | Privacy Policy | Site Map

Site by Blackbaud, Inc.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software