Brown Dog Tick
There are different species of Ehrlichia that can infect dogs. The clinical signs can depend on the species of Ehrlichia and the immune response if the dog that is being attacked by the disease. In general, a dog that has Ehrlichia will display the following clinical signs:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Abnormal bleeding (nosebleeds, bruising)
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Pain and stiffness in joints
- Kidney disease in severe cases
Although cases of Ehrlichia aren’t very common in Winnipeg or Brandon, there have been reported incidences in both regions in 2012. In Winnipeg, there were 14 cases of Ehrlichia and in Brandon, there were 2 cases reported. A dog’s chance of contracting Ehrlichia increases when the dog isn’t vaccinated nor has any other kind of protection against ticks. If an owner notices these signs in their dog, they should take to their dog to their vet as soon as possible.
A dog that has contracted Ehrlichia will generally not show signs until the disease becomes worse. When an owner notices a change in their dog and brings it to their vet with these symptoms, the vet will likely take a detailed history of the dog. They will be asking questions such as where has the dog been recently, has it been in long grass, has it gotten out of the house, have you taken your dog camping or hiking recently, etc. The answer to these questions will give the vet a hypothesis as to what the problem may be. The vet will also give the dog a physical examination to look for anything abnormal, like the presence of a tick or bruising of the skin. The vet will then ask for blood to be drawn so that a complete blood profile can be done. The vet techs will be doing a CBC and blood chemistry on the sample to look for any abnormalities. A 4Dx test or a SNAP test may also be done to figure out the problem the dog has. Once the results come back, the vet will likely confirm the diagnosis of Ehrlichia.
Once a dog has been diagnosed with Ehrlichia, it will be prescribed an antibiotic, such as doxycycline. The dog’s symptoms will improve quickly however; several weeks of antibiotics must be given to ensure full recovery. If the red blood cell count was seen to be too low, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Other supportive therapy may be needed if the dog has had any organ damage due to the disease.