Symptoms of Anaplasmosis in a Canine

By Jane Meggitt

If you find a tick burrowed into your dog, watch him carefully for signs of illness after you remove the parasite. Symptoms of canine anaplasmosis resemble those of Lyme disease, which is transmitted by the deer tick. It's possible that your dog suffers from both tick-borne diseases, especially if he's been in a heavily tick-infested area. The medication prescribed for anaplasmosis treatment is the same as for Lyme disease.

Tick-Borne Anaplasmosis

Ticks pass these infections onto your dog via a bite. In most of the United States, the primary vector for anaplasmosis is Ixodes scapularis -- the same deer tick responsible for the spread of Lyme disease. On the West Coast, bites from Ixodes pacificus, the Western black-legged tick, is the main mode of transmission. Not all dogs bitten by an infected tick will come down with anaplasmosis.

Anaplasmosis Phagocytophilum Symptoms

Anaplasmosis phagocytophilum previously was known as Ehrlichia phagocytophila, or ehrlichiosis. If your dog experiences fever, appetite and weight loss, joint swelling, lameness and lethargy, he might have contracted anaplasmosis phagocytophilum. That's even more likely if he's not receiving a regular, monthly tick preventive. More serious symptoms include neurological problems, vomiting, diarrhea and difficulty breathing. Symptoms usually occur within one to two weeks after a tick bite.

Anaplasmosis Platys Symptoms

Dogs affected with the less common anaplasmosis platys -- formerly known as Ehrlichia platys -- display many of the same symptoms found in anaplasmosis phagocytophilum, only somewhat milder. They also can develop cyclic thrombocytopenia, resulting in periodic platelet decrease and subsequent bleeding or bruises. Other symptoms of cyclic thrombocytopenia include blood in the urine or nosebleeds, with the cycle repeating itself every one to two weeks.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Your veterinarian likely will perform a complete blood count to diagnose anaplasmosis, along with a chemistry profile. She likely will conduct an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or indirect fluorescent antibody assay to identify antibodies and titers. Dogs with anaplasmosis generally have low white and red blood cell and platelet counts. Your vet likely will prescribe the antibiotic doxycycline to treat either type of the disease, with your dog remaining on the medication for a month or more. Without treatment, your dog might suffer from periodic flare-ups of anaplasmosis for the rest of his life. If he's cured but bitten by another infected tick, the whole cycle can start again.