What is it?
A disease of dogs commonly called tick fever is actually ehrlichiosis caused by a rickettsial infection with E. canis.
How does my pet get it?
E. canis is transmitted by the bite of an infected tick transmitting the organism in its saliva. Not all ticks are infected with E.canis and not all tick bites result in infection with E. canis. However, only one infected tick is needed to infect a dog with this disease.
How long after a bite does disease occur?
Time of disease varies greatly. Signs can occur as early as 3 weeks after a bite or the disease can remain hidden and not show up for months.
What kind of disease does it cause?
E. canis can cause a reduction in platelets which leads to bleeding. Nose bleeds and other superficial bleeding is common. Infected pets can also become anemic (lowered red blood cell number), can develop joint disease with swollen and painful joints, lymph nodes (glands) may become enlarged, central nervous system can become infected, eye infection or intraocular bleeding can occur, depression and weight loss are common. Dogs may exhibit a fever.
How is it diagnosed?
Tick fever is diagnosed by a blood test.
How is it treated?
If ticks are present the pet and environment should be treated to eliminate them. The disease is treated with a medication called Doxycycline or other medications in that same class. We’ll often treat for 3 weeks and then retest with a PCR (DNA) test to confirm that we have eliminated the organism. Most pets respond well to treatment. The development of joint disease carries a less favorable prognosis and in addition to the above medication these pets often have to be treated with prednisone to reduce the inflammatory/immune response.
How do I prevent infection in my dog?
The key to preventing infection is in prevention of tick bites. Ticks are common in Arizona and I recommend that all pets be placed on some type of topical treatment monthly. Frontline and Revolution are commonly used topical prescription products. Ticks are active just about any time it is above freezing in the valley. If your pet was infected from your yard you should also have the yard and or house treated on a regular basis.
Will my otherdogs become infected from an infected dog?
No, the disease is only spread through tick bites and not from dog to dog.
Can people get this infection?
No, unlike lyme disease, this is an infection of dogs. This is essentially not a disease of cats with infection being very rare.