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Anaplasmosis in Dogs

External parasites like ticks can cause a range of potentially serious diseases, like anaplasmosis. What is this condition and what can you do about it? Today, our Rancho Cucamonga vets talk about anaplasmosis in dogs, the symptoms you may see and how it can be treated.

What is anaplasmosis in dogs?

Anaplasmosis is caused by a bacteria called Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It is spread by the bite of an infected black-legged tick, deer tick (also responsible for the spread of Lyme disease), or brown dog tick. This potentially serious condition can be found across the US, but higher disease rates are reported in the Midwest, West Coast, and Northeast.

What are the anaplasmosis symptoms in dogs?

Some dogs may be asymptomatic, while others may have flu-like symptoms. If your dog has anaplasmosis, you may notice one or more of the following:

  • Lethargy
  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bloody nose
  • Lameness
  • Joint pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Meningitis
  • Ataxia
  • Chills

Long-Term Effects of Anaplasmosis in Dogs

If your dog begins to show symptoms of anaplasmosis, you should bring them to a vet as soon as possible. Left untreated, anaplasmosis can result in serious health complications for your dog, including respiratory failure, organ failure, and bleeding problems. In very severe cases, anaplasmosis in dogs can be fatal.

Sometimes, a dog can be treated successfully and may continue to test positive for the infection. This does not indicate an active infection, so a second round of antibiotics is unnecessary and usually not recommended.

How is anaplasmosis diagnosed in dogs?

Diagnosing anaplasmosis can be tricky since its symptoms are somewhat vague and could be associated with various other diseases. Knowing where your dog has been and whether it may have come in contact with infected ticks can help your veterinarian with diagnosis.

Provide your veterinarian with as much information as possible regarding where your dog may have been in contact with the ticks, the symptoms your dog is displaying, and when the symptoms began. The first symptoms of anaplasmosis typically appear in dogs between two to four weeks after being bitten by an infected tick.

If your veterinarian believes your dog could be infected with anaplasmosis, they will perform a full physical exam to look for signs of the disease and any ticks living on your pet. Your veterinarian may also run an antibody test to determine if your dog tests positive for the Anaplasma phagocytophilum bacteria. 

What are the treatment options for anaplasmosis in dogs?

Anaplasmosis in dogs can be treated with antibiotics such as Doxycycline, Minocycline, Tetracycline, or Chloramphenicol. Most dogs improve within 24- 48 hours after beginning the antibiotic treatment.

Are there any ways to prevent dogs from contracting anaplasmosis?

Preventive tick medication given throughout the year can go a long way in preventing your pup from being affected by tick-borne diseases. You can also help your dog avoid contracting tick-borne diseases by keeping your pup away from areas where ticks are most likely to be hiding (long grass and brush) and checking your dog daily for ticks so that they can be removed before transmission occurs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs associated with anaplasmosis or any other illness? Please contact our vets at Rancho Regional Veterinary Hospital in Rancho Cucamonga to schedule an examination.

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