Ehrlichiosis in Dogs – Prevent It From Happening to your Pekingese

 


Ehrlichiosis in Dogs – Prevent It From Happening to your Pekingese

What is ehrlichia? How can it affect your dog? Ehrlichiosis in dogs is common in places that are infested with ticks. Ehrlichia is a type of bacteria that infects dogs and other animals all over the world causing the illness, ehrlichiosis. This disease is also known as Tropical Canine Pancytopenia and it is transmitted by ticks.

The bacteria Ehrlichia usually affects the dog’s white blood cells. Another closely related illness that affects dogs as well which affects the platelets is caused by the bacteria Anaplasma platys which is also called Ehrlichiosis by the experts as well. Most infections of Erhlichia is gotten via a tick bite but it is also possible to get the disease via blood transfusions.

Signs and symptoms of the disease may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Emlarged lymph nodes
  • Neurological symptoms (ex: paralysis, seizures, depression, incoordination)
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Eye/nose discharges
  • Stiffness and pain

Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

Ehrlichiosis in dogs is most commonly caused by Ehrlichia canisE. chaffeensisE. ewingii, and possibly E. ruminantium. There are multiple strains of Ehrlichia, affecting different species of animals. Some also affect people. Some organisms that were formerly classified as Ehrlichiahave now been reclassfied as Anaplasma. The Ehrlichia organisms are what we call rickettsia, which on the evolutionary scale are between bacteria and viruses.

Ehrlichia are transmitted by ticks including the Brown Dog Tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus and the Lone Star Tick Amblyomma americanum. The immature form of the tick feeds on an animal infected with Ehrlichia. When these immature ticks or a mature form of the tick feeds on another animal, the Ehrlichia is passed on to that animal. The Ehrlichia can remain alive in the developing tick for up to 5 months. This means a tick could become infected in the fall, and infect a dog the following spring.

Source: Pet Education, http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2102&aid=430 by Drs. Foster and Smith

Prevention

Preventing ehrlichiosis would mean preventing your dog’s exposure to ticks. That is the best way to do it. Do a daily check up on him for ticks and remove it the soonest since ticks must be able to feed 24-48 hours before they can spread Ehrlichia. This is particularly important during the peak tick season, it is best to let your dogs stay indoors at this time.

There are also products that are tick preventatives like Frontline or even tick collars such as Preventic, you can use these products and be sure you follow your vet’s advice on how to apply these medications. Keep your bushes and grass trimmed in your yard since these are places where ticks would love to stay and multiply. Also consider treating your dog’s dog house and yard for ticks.

Treatment

Doxycycline is the antibiotic used to treat ehrlichiosis and it responds well to it too. Improvements would be seen quickly however it would take weeks of treatment to ensure your pet’s full recovery.

There are severe cases when the dog’s WBC (white blood cells) become very low thus blood transfusions would be needed.

Early detection and prevention is the best way to avoid this nasty Ehrlichiosis in dogs.  Personally, our family dog has recently been diagnosed with this disease and unfortunately her prognosis is poor since it is already at the last stage.  This is the reason why this post is about it so that other pet owners out there would be informed and educated about it.

Here’s to hoping that your beloved pet companion won’t be infected with this disease. Tell us your opinions and feedback on the space provided below.

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