Ehrlichiosis In Dogs

An Overview of Ehrlichiosis

The term Ehrlichiosis is hard to pronounce, but one should take some time to out and learn about the disease, so as to protect his pet. This condition can develop after an animal accidently comes across an infection mite. Dogs can contract several types of Ehrlichia bacteria. So let us study the two most common forms of the disease in our furry friends.

1.Monolyctic Ehrlichiosis:

Monocytic Ehrlichiosis (ME) develops when our furry friends come in contact with the Ehrlichia Canis Bacteria. These organisms are mainly transmitted to dogs through brown dog ticks, clinically known as Rhipicephalus Sanguineus. Brown dog ticks are common throughout the entire United States. In recent years, experts have started saying that these mites are actually prevalent throughout the whole world. These mites become problematic especially in warmer climates. Thats way Ehrlichiosis are very common in warmer climates.

Stages and signs of Monolyctic Ehrlichiosis:

The pet will seem perfectly normal for two to three weeks. If the dog’s immune system is not able to fight off the infection during this time, after third or fourth week, the dog will automatically step into the chronic phase of infection. During the initial stage, the bacteria actively reproduce within a specific type of white blood cell. Then spreads throughout the body of the dog. Dogs display a variety of signs during the chronic phase of monocytic ehrlichiosis:

1.Recurrent Fever

2.Occasional Laziness

3.Low appetite

4.Enlargement of the lymph node

5.Aberrant bruising and bleeding

6.Severe eye inflammation

7.Neurological oddness

These signs mentioned above will last for three to four weeks, if the dog does not get proper treatment. Many of our canine friends can appear to get better on their own. But they actually enter the subclinical phase of the disease, which generally lasts for months to years. During the subclinical period, blood work may reveal a decreased platelet count, clinically called as thrombocytopenia. One strange thing is that the dog physically appears to be perfectly healthy. Some dogs will never progress out of the subclinical phase. But can also enter the chronic stage of the disease in the future. "The longer the infection lacks treatment, the severe the condition becomes."

2.Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis:

The second form of Ehrlichiosis is Granulocytic Ehrlichiosis or CGE. The bacteria called the Ehrlichia ewingii causes this infection. Transmission of these bacterias happens through the lone star ticks, clinically known as Amblyomma Americanum. Lone star ticks are natives of the Eastern, Midwestern, and Southeastern parts of the USA.

The typical signs of CGE are tad different from the CME:

1.Recurrent Fever

2.Occasional Laziness

3.The dog may appear stiff when walking

4.Frequent vomiting

5.Occasional diarrhea

6.Neurologic oddness

What should the owner do, if he senses the presence of Ehrlichiosis?

The dog may have any form of the condition. However, the pet needs to be evaluated by a vet as quickly as it can. Diagnosing the condition can be quite complicated. Many of the signs are indistinguishable from other diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, lymphosarcoma,  Lyme disease, and few other immune conditions. A majority of the vets will collect a complete health history of the dog. Then will perform a thorough physical exam. Then he will obtain a total blood count, a whole blood chemistry panel, a urinalysis, a fecal examination, and some specific lab work aimed at diagnosing the condition.

These commonly used test, mainly indicate whether an animal has exposed itself to the Ehrlichia bacteria. Some dogs with the condition will not show any signs of the condition. Therefore, to get definite about the condition in the dog, the pet has to test positive for exposure. Some other forms of Ehrlichia tests are used in cases with severe complications.


The vet will most probably prescribe antibiotic Doxycycline medicine to treat the ehrlichiosis. The owner will have to give this once in a day for four weeks. Other medications are there if the situation varies. If a dog receives treatment according to the advice of the vet, its condition will usually appear to improve rapidly, within a day or two. In some serious cases, additional treatments like blood transfusions, intravenous fluids, immunosuppressive medications, or pain relievers may also be needed.


Ehrlichiosis is an extremely serious disease. A dog which has been infected once in the past can develop the condition again in the future. Vaccination is not there at present to protect dogs against ehrlichiosis. But research is going on to develop a vaccine. For now, the best way to protect dogs will be preventing them from getting in contact with tick bites. The owner can consult with the vet and get recommendations about the best possible way of protecting the dog’s health, lifestyle, and the prevalence of ticks in the surrounding areas.

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