Anaplasmosis is also known as ehrlichiosis. It is an infection that is caused by a bacteria known as Anaplasma phagocytophilum. This bacteria is spread by a brown dog tick, the deer tick and the western black legged tick. Dogs that are bitten by a tick carrying the bacteria shown symptoms after two weeks. The ticks acquire the bacteria by feeding on an infected dog. Dogs with anaplasmosis often have numerous infections because the deer ticks carry other infectious diseases like the canine Lyme disease.
Canine anaplasmosis disease occurs in three stages. The acute phase, the sub-clinical phase and the chronic phase. Some dogs manage to fight and eliminate the disease during the sub-clinical phase but others progress to the chronic stage.
- Fever: Fever is a very common symptom of anaplasmosis. A healthy dogs temperature range from 99 degrees to 102.5 degrees depending on the breed of the dog. A temperature of more than 102.5 degrees is considered as fever. Fever is mostly present during the acute and chronic phases.
- Loss of appetite: In most dogs, canine anaplasmosis causes loss of appetite that leads to weight loss. Loss of appetite is most evident during the acute and chronic phases.
- Bleeding disorder: Canine anaplasmosis cause bleeding disorders like nose bleeding, blood in urine and skin bruises. Bleeding disorder occurs in the chronic phase.
- Neurological symptoms: Dogs suffer from neurological problems like seizures, ataxia and neck pain. Ataxia causes loss of balance, tremors and change in gait. Seizure occur as uncontrollable movement of muscles that is accompanied by temporary loss of bowel movement control. Neurological problems occur during the chronic stage.
- Swelling of joints: Dogs suffering from anaplasmosis experience painful swelling of the leg joints. The swelling mat be extreme causing some dogs to cry when trying to move they get reluctant to move. This manifests during the acute and chronic stages.
- Behavior change: Dogs suffering form anaplasmosis tend to change their behavior during the acute stage. They appear depressed Probably due to the pain they are experiencing.
Diagnosing canine anaplasmosis can be difficult. However, blood samples of the infected dog are analyzed in search of the Anaplasma phagocytophilum bacteria. The test may be negative until two to three weeks after the tick bite. Since the anaplasmosis disease can cause kidney problems, a urinalysis would be helpful and also a blood count to determine how severe the disease is and the abnormalities in white blood cells, platelets and red blood cells.
Treatment and prevention
Treatment: After the diagnosis is made, the infected dog is treated with antibiotics for about a month. The antibiotics should be taken twice a day and the treatment may last more than a month depending on the disease phase and to ensure that all the bacteria has been eliminated. In acute phase, improvement begins in the second day. If the dog was in chronic phase, blood transfusion may be necessary depending on the red blood cells count.
Prevention: The best prevention of canine anaplasmosis is tick control. Trim the grass and weeds, remove rock piles and bushy covers as ticks hide themselves in such places. Ticks transmit the infection after 5-20 hours of attaching on the dog. So daily inspections and tick removal will prevent dog infections. Dogs that live in areas where the disease is endemic are protected by administering an oral dose of tetracycline or doxycycline everyday.