Ehrlichiosis: What You Should Be Looking For

tick warning

Ehrlichiosis: What You Should Know

Lyme disease isn't the only tick-borne illness that can sicken your pet. Erlichiosis may also make your furry friend miserable. Fortunately, antibiotic treatment can kill the bacteria responsible for the illness.

What is Ehrlichiosis?

Your dog may develop canine monocytic ehrlichiosis if it's bitten by a brown tick carrying the ehrlichia canis bacteria. The ticks are found in every state in the continental US, but seem to be particularly active in the warmer parts of the country. Ehrlichiosis in cats is rare, although the illness does occur occasionally.

Another form of ehrlichiosis, known as canine granulocytic ehrlichiosis, occurs when your pet is bitten by a lone star tick. This tick thrives in the Midwestern, Southeastern and Eastern parts of the country.

What are the Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis?

Common symptoms of ehrlichiosis in dogs include:

  • Signs of Illness. Fever, swollen lymph nodes and lethargy may occur if your pet is infected by either form of the disease.
  • Lack of Interest in Food. Not surprisingly, your pet may not feel like eating if he or she develops ehrlichiosis.
  • Lameness. Some dogs find walking painful due to the infection.
  • Other Symptoms. Other symptoms of canine monocytic ehrlichiosis may include abnormal bruising or bleeding and eye inflammation, while canine granulocytic ehrlichiosis may cause vomiting and diarrhea.

In addition to fever, enlarged lymph nodes and eye inflammation, cats may develop swollen joints, anemia and trouble breathing.

Symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after your pet is infected. If your dog or cat doesn't receive treatment at this time, the disease may progress to the subacute or chronic phases. Chronic ehrlichiosis can affect your pet's ability to produce adequate numbers of red and white blood cells and may even lead to death. Pets that are already sick with another illness or have compromised immune systems may be more likely to develop severe or chronic ehrlichiosis.

How Is Ehrlichiosis Diagnosed and Treated?

It's not always easy to diagnose ehrlichiosis, as many other illnesses share common symptoms, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and lymphosarcoma. Blood, fecal, and other lab tests can help your pet's veterinarian narrow the possibilities.

Some pets may test positive for exposure to the bacteria that causes the disease, yet never become sick. If your pet's routine bloodwork includes a positive result for the ehrlichiosis bacteria but he or she has never been sick, treatment probably won't be necessary. Treatment is usually recommended only if your dog or cat has a positive test result and displays symptoms of the disease.

Antibiotics, such as doxycycline, tetracycline, or minocycline, may be prescribed if your furry friend is diagnosed with ehrlichiosis. Most pets will begin to feel better one to three weeks after beginning antibiotic treatment. It's important to give your pet all the medication, even if you happen to notice an improvement in the symptoms after a few days. In the later phases of the disease, dogs may need blood transfusions or steroid treatment.

How Can Ehrlichiosis Be Prevented?

You can reduce the chance that your pet will develop ehrlichiosis by following these tips:

  • Use Anti-Tick Treatments. Treatments, such as spot products or flea collars, repel or kill ticks or prevent them from attaching to your pet's body.
  • Conduct Tick Checks. It's a good idea to examine your dog or cat for ticks at least once a day, particularly if your pet loves romps in the fields or woods.
  • Remove Ticks Right Away. A tick must be attached to your pet's body for hours before it can transmit the bacteria. The sooner you remove the tick, the less likely your dog or cat will become sick. Grasp the head of the tick with tweezers and pull it straight out using firm, gentle pressure.
  • Call Your Pet's Veterinarian. Make an appointment with the vet if you notice any of the common symptoms of ehrlichiosis, particularly if your pet has recently been bitten by a tick. Prompt treatment can prevent the disease from progressing to the more serious and difficult-to-treat stages.

Have you noticed any signs of illness in your pet? A trip to the veterinarian can help your furry friend recover and put your mind at ease. Give us a call if you would like to schedule a visit for your pet.

Sources:

Pet MD: Signs and Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/signs-and-symptoms-ehrlichiosis-dogs

Pet Health Network: Ehrlichiosis in Dogs

http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/dog-health/dog-diseases-conditions-a-z/ehrlichiosis-dogs

Zoetis: Tick Prevalence Maps

https://www.zoetisus.com/products/dogs/simparica/prevalence-maps.aspx

PetPlace: Ehrlichiosis in Cats, 7/3/15

https://www.petplace.com/article/cats/pet-health/ehrlichiosis-in-cats/

Contact Us Today!

Contact us using the form or call us at 804-741-3200.

Monday:

7:30am

6:00pm

Tuesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Wednesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Thursday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Friday:

7:30am

6:00pm

Saturday:

7:30am

2:00pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Evans was so patient and kind with our kitty "Cookie". Very caring and so helpful and answered many questions for me concerning her health. The office staff are kind, caring, and professional. The office is immaculate. I have never been to a vet where my pets and myself were treated so well. Love it and so glad to have found them. Best vet appointment ever!"
    Dorothy M.
  • "We have used the Q for over 15 years for our cats and our dogs. Dr. Mortimer is a genius at diagnosing and treating a wide array of issues, and we have relied on his skills to help our animals live to amazing ages. The staff is incredibly caring. They do everything possible to help when we call or come in with a sick animal. They truly care for our pets, and many of the staff will come out from the back to pet our dogs
    when they come in. They are so patient with shy animals like our ferally cat Stasha who needed laser treatments, and our Bagle Topsy who is afraid of her own shadow.Yes, they are not the cheapest vet in town, but they work with us on making a treatment plan we can afford, and we feel that the value and the care are well worth it. Thank you to everyone at the Q for their dedication and loving care."
    Sally M. / December 21, 2017
  • "Met with Dr. Hiser today for the first time. Everyone at the
    clinic--from the desk staff to the vet techs to the veterinarian were warm and welcoming. My dog Iris--who is often nervous around new people--was comfortable there and (I think) made a few new friends. Looking forward to a continued relationship with the clinic as my sweet girl grows up. Thanks, thanks thanks."
    Stephanie C. / June 27, 2018
  • "My three chihuahuas have been Dr. Mortimer's patients for over nine years. The expertise, love, and care demonstrated for each pet is extraordinary. The doctors and staff go the extra mile to help their patients and the parents. They are truly an amazing group that love and care for each pet. If there was a review rated outstanding, that would have been my choice!"
    Donna C. / June 10, 2018
  • "I would highly recommended QVH. All of the staff are so kind and compassionate. They are so willing to help and never mind answering any questions you may have, even if it's 100 questions they are so patient. They genuinely care and treat your pets as if they were their own. And I cannot say enough about Dr. Hiser. She is amazing. Even on her days off she would still call and check in on my dog. I am so appreciative of this place and the staff. It's a great feeling to be completely comfortable with putting your pets care in someone's else hands and trusting them to provide the best service."
    Taylor H. / August 25, 2018
  • "I have been seeing Dr. Evans for at least 20 years. Her manner, knowledge, staff and facility are exceptional. I am a health care provider myself and hold the care of my pets to the highest standards....and I have never had a second thought about the care or recommendations of Dr. Evans. I moved out of town 6 years ago....and drive 3 hours each way to see her."
    Kimberley W. / April 2, 2018
  • "Wouldn't trust my four-legged Kids to anyone else - they have guided us with all our dogs through the years. The entire staff is kind and patient with the animals (and their parents)."
    Karen K. / November 7, 2017

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles