Ehrlichiosis or Blood Parasitism

Like Dengue Fever in humans, blood parasitism is a microbe carried by insects. In the case of dogs, these insects are ticks (not mosquitoes).

If you read Marvel Comics, blood parasitism in dogs is like Galactus and the planets. In order to survive, the cosmic entity Galactus needs to consume planets. Blood parasites need to consume cells in your dog’s body, which result to nose bleeding, bruises on the skin, white gums, fever, chills, and loss of appetite.

Luckily, there is a cure for blood parasitism in Manila and it involves just buying a few medicines that are readily available everywhere.

If your dog is at the early stages of the infection without kidney and liver damage, it should get out of it with medications. But if it is diagnosed at the late phase with kidney and liver failure and severe anemia (haematocrit in CBC is less than 20), it will give you a headache and a run for your money.

SYMPTOMS

NOSE BLEEDING IN A DOG. Apart from heat stroke, blood parasitism causes bleeding on one or both nostrils. If the bleeding is excessive and can not be controlled by cold compress, it needs immediate professional and licensed veterinary care. Photo courtesy of MyAnimals.com.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Walking a dog having no anti-tick and flea protection at a public park with grass puts your dog at risk. The ticks wait at the grass for your dog to come in contact with so they could attach themselves. The ticks need to be attached to your dog for at least 24 hours before the parasite could be transferred from its mouth to your dog’s blood stream.

The symptoms above could appear 1 to 2 weeks after your dog is bitten.

Apart from Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewinggi, Anaplasma phagocytophilium, Anaplasma platys, and Borrelia burgdorferi (sorry for using these fancy names, you can just call them blood parasites if you like).

The last one can infect man. There had been a few reports of identified Lyme disease positive dogs in the Philippines but the numbers of the infected people are lacking. This disease is more common in the United States.

No, there is actually no vaccine against this disease until now.

If you’ve experienced Ehrlichiosis before, you probably know the signs.

However, if this is your first time and you’re suspecting that your dog has it, you can not simply determine just by reading this article.

At the vet hospital, your vet will obtain a blood sample and test if for the three blood parasites. Snap 4DX costs around PHP 1,850.00 and results are usually obtained in less than half an hour. The complete blood count or CBC, costing around PHP 750.00, will determine if the disease is at its early or advanced stages. A biochemistry profile panel, approximately PHP 2,250.00, will help in identifying if complications are present. Sadly, if your pet tests positive with very low RBCs, low platelets, high CREA (about the kidneys), high BUN (toxins in the blood), high ALP and ALT (about the liver), high GLOB (tells us if problem has been present for a long time), your dog will have a hard time fighting the parasite and the complications.

Killing the blood parasite is relatively easy, but reversing the complications of blood loss and organ failure may take at least one month before everything is okay. This delays the healing and endangers your pet’s life.

Your vet may even recommend a blood transfusion if the option is available (most specially if PCV or HCT in the CBC falls below 20).

It depends on the stage of the disease, your pet’s current condition, and if there are complications present.

If your pet is still wagging its tail and barking despite a bleeding nose, your vet may just issue a prescription and ask you to observe your pet for the next 1 to 3 days. Your vet will ask you to return every 14 days until the CBC is back to normal (could take 1 to 2 months, depending on your pet’s body).

If your pet is weak, very anemic, vomiting yellow acid, and at a chronic or advanced stage of the disease, hospitalization is the best option. With kidney failure (high BUN and high CREA in biochemistry), your pet always has hyperacidity because of the failure of the kidneys to expel the toxins via peeing. As a result, any food, water and medicine will simply further irritate your dog’s stomach and cause more vomiting and pain. In order to administer medicines, it needs to be on IV fluids for several days. If available, your vet will ask you to purchase dog blood for blood transfusion.

Not always. Imagine your pet’s body as a car, and the blood as fuel. If the car is too broken beyond repair, will pouring fuel make the car work? The bone marrow or the part in the middle of the shaft of the bone that you eat in bulalo soup, produces red and white blood cells. In advanced and chronic infections, this part is so damaged; it can not produce cells anymore. And this eventually leads to death, unless there is an option for a bone marrow transplant.

On the other hand, if your pet’s body is still functioning, blood transfusion will be very beneficial. Again, please take not that HCT or PCV should be less than 20 in order to qualify for blood transfusion. A pet who is anemic but has an HCT or PCV greater than 20 can be cured by prescription medications.

Take note that at the first blood transfusion, there is no need for the donor and receiver’s blood to match. But for the next transfusions, it is highly necessary because if they do not match, the receiver’s body will reject it and lead to death.

Like in all other procedures in medicine, there are always risks involved in blood transfusion such as severe allergy or rejection reaction. Your vet may give your pet a steroid before administering the blood to minimize this risk.

There is a difference between a canine blood bank and a hospital or clinic that administers blood transfusion. Some hospitals or clinics can have their own blood bank provisions and administer the transfusion at the same time. Some only does transfusion. You should clarify this to your pet’s health provider.

BLOOD BANK: 

Definitely yes. If you have a tick-infested household, do not even have second thoughts.

Doxycycline antibiotic and iron supplement. Both are always available in your nearby drugstore, but requires a licensed veterinary professional’s prescription for you to purchase them.

If your pet is on an outpatient care, your vet will prescribe the medicine and ask that you return every 14 days to check the complete blood count or CBC. You need to compare the CBC on the first day and the CBC 14 days after to see if there are improvements in the numbers. This could take 2 to 3 sessions.

If your pet is weak and critical, hospitalization is very important.

All medicines are given to your pet through the IV. This is the needle that stays in your pet’s arm for several days. It provides fluids to prevent dehydration, and a way to give medicines like antibiotic (to prevent bad bacteria from being overpopulated), anti-emetic (stop vomiting), pain killers (blocks pain), electrolytes, vitamins, and liver or kidney supplements. Treatment plan varies from hospital to hospital. You may want to ask your vet about the specifics of the treatment plan if you feel you need to know more.

Hospitalization may last for 1 to 14 days. Generally speaking, an improvement should be seen on day 3 to 5 of confinement.

If your pet gets reinfected again or gets diagnosed at a very late stage, it will either be too hard and expensive to save it or nothing could be done to reverse the damages inside its body.

Infected dogs heal by showing the following signs: no more nose bleeding, decrease in times of vomiting, diarrhea, pain, more pink gums and generally just a return to its normal self.

If your pet is admitted and it just sleeps the whole day, your vet will recommend a daily or every 3 days Complet Blood Count and biochemistry profile. You will compare the numbers from day 1, and day-to-day. This is to monitor if your pet’s condition is improving.

We can say that your pet is improving if anemia is lessened (RBC and PCV gets higher), immune system is normalizing (WBC falls within the normal range), platelets are improving (PLT gets higher), kidneys are healing (CREA and BUN decreasing back to normal range), and liver is on its road to recovery (ALT and ALKP decreasing back to normal range).

Take note that the healing of liver and kidneys is very slow, and could take at least a month or more.

For cases at an early stage without complications, medium to high.

For pets that are hospitalized with complications, 50-50.

If your dog passed away, yes you may but only after you disinfect your entire house and garden. To kill the mommy, daddy, and kiddy ticks at home, I usually prescribe this:

  • Doggie’s Choice Pet House Cleaner (PHP 440.00) 

If your pet survived Ehrlichiosis, be sure it had received an anti-tick medicine and you treated your property with the product above.

Once your dogs are cleared from the infection and your property is tick-free, it is safe to bring in a new puppy. Be sure to read our tips on this through the Recommendations section.

Yes but only by using a prescription from a licensed veterinary professional. Even though I mentioned the core medications above, you still need to bring your pet to the vet to know what is wrong, and what options he or she can give you depending on your circumstances.

Buying medicines that you saw other people use on the internet is not only irresponsible, it may also endanger the life of your pet. Be careful of “trending” cure-all medicines that claim that it can cure anything, based on unvalidated internet testimonials. You should always cast a shadow of doubt when one medicine or supplement can cure lots of diseases. Remember virgin coconut oil, ampalaya, turmeric, and apple cider? Yeah, you fell for one of them right?

Indiscriminate antibiotic use may help produce a multiple drug resistant bacteria in your dog that, when transferred to you, could end you up at a bed in the hospital. So you need to bring your pet to the vet so he or she could properly compute the right amount of medicines that your dog needs.

I encountered some patients who had a fast recovery from the infection which happened at around day 3 of admission. But on average, dogs may go home on day 5 to 7 as long as your pet has 24 hours of no vomit, no pain,  has normal behaviour, and an improved blood test results.

Absolutely not. Once your pet’s latest blood test results are back to normal, vaccination can be done. Vaccinating actively sick animals is highly dangerous and is a form of animal cruelty.

Request your dog to be tested for 1 or more test kits from different manufacturers. False negative is possible but very rare.

When the blood test results are all back to normal, and your completed its minimum of 14 days of Doxycyline, it may be safe to update its vaccinations.

Yes, this happens. It’s possible it got bitten during the window period.

Despite this, always use a tick and flea prevention as it is better than nothing.

Unfortunately, yes. Like Dengue Fever in humans, yes.

No, you won’t get Ehrlichiosis or Anaplasmosis. But you may get Lyme disease. So if you are a dog importer, be sure to have your imported dog tested for Lyme disease before you intend to introduce it to your household. If you plan to bring your dog to the states, be sure it has a good anti-tick and flea protection especially when you visit parks.

If you plan on buying a new puppy, you may set a vet appointment on the same day you will acquire the ball of fluff. Request a Parvo and Distemper Test, as well as a fecalysis to rule out common diseases that ironically are “free” with your purchase. Additionally, you may request a CBC (complete blood count) and Snap 4Dx (blood parasites test) if possible and available. Some choose to have an agreement with the seller that if the puppy is proven sick, the buyer has the right to a full refund and that the seller should shoulder the vet bills.

If you are purchasing online, be sure the breeder will allow you to visit his or her home so you may see the conditions that the puppy is being brought up to. If the breeder does not allow this, look for another one. A responsible breeder is confident with his or her management system and simply has nothing to hide. This involves touching the puppies or mother (if it allows) and looking for ticks.

If you already have a dog, read our recommendations for the best tick and flea protection in Metro Manila.

Note

Look for an emergency service provider in advance by calling your nearby vets. It helps to know who is open at the middle of the night. Be sure you meet with the doctors and staff to make sure that this place is where you would want to take your pet if you had to. You may opt to transfer your pet to your primary care veterinarian the next day if you wish.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top