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Anaplasmosis in Dogs: All About Tick Disease

Canine anaplasmosis is an infectious disease that is transmitted by a tick bite. Since the disease is a zoonosis, it can also be passed on to other dogs and humans. Here you will find all the important information about the disease.

Anaplasmosis in the Dog: Transmission

Anaplasmosis is triggered by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys. The disease is transmitted by ticks, whose saliva contains bacteria. If the dog is bitten by a tick, the bloodsucker transfers the bacteria to the dog during the act of sucking.

The bacteria get into the blood cells of the sick pet and the disease spreads in the dog’s body over the course of a few days. In Central Europe, a certain type of tick is known to be the carrier of anaplasmosis: the common wood tick (Ixodes ricinus).

The infection mainly occurs in the warmer months from March to November, when ticks are particularly active.

Anaplasmosis in the Dog: Symptoms

In the event of an infection, the anaplasmas reach the entire organism of the dog. However, the disease does not occur in all cases. In many infected animals, the infection is completely asymptomatic, i.e. there are no symptoms whatsoever. In some cases, however, the disease develops with numerous possible symptoms.

Why some dogs get sick with anaplasmosis and others show no symptoms is still unclear.

If the disease occurs, the symptoms appear within a few days after the tick bite and are very pronounced. Typical acute symptoms of anaplasmosis are:

  • Elevated body temperature, high fever, apathy;
  • Inflammation in the joints, lameness;
  • Bleeding under the skin and an increased tendency to bleed;
  • Weakness and malaise;
  • Diarrhea and vomiting;
  • Weight loss;
  • Rare: neurological symptoms (tremors, seizures, ataxia);
  • Rare: inflammation of the organs (kidney, liver, spleen, lungs).

After the acute phase, the sick dog either recovers or enters a subclinical phase in which the disease is asymptomatic. Dogs with weak immune systems can then have a new outbreak or chronic anaplasmosis. However, the infection is rarely fatal.

Canine Anaplasmosis – Treatment and Prognosis

Anaplasma can be detected by the veterinarian through a blood test. Specific antibodies can be detected in the blood approximately two weeks after the tick is infected. If you suspect a disease after a tick bite, you should therefore present your dog to the vet and have the necessary examinations carried out.

If the test is positive, the anaplasmosis is treated by giving antibiotics. Because it is a bacterial infection, antibiotics like doxycycline are usually effective and provide quick relief from acute symptoms.

Depending on the severity of the disease, treatment with cortisone (prednisolone) can also be useful. In most cases, anaplasmosis can be treated well with medication, so the prognosis in the dog is good. Only in rare cases does the disease break out again after treatment.

Contagion: Transmission to Dogs and Humans

Many bacterial infections are contagious and can affect humans as well as dogs. Anaplasmosis is a zoonosis. However, the bacteria are usually not transmitted directly from the dog to humans, rather the infection usually takes place through a tick bite.

Blood contact is necessary for direct dog-to-human transmission, as the bacteria are located in the dog’s blood cells.

Prevent Anaplasma Through Tick Protection

In order to protect the dog from an infectious disease such as anaplasmosis, thorough prevention is the best solution. One or two tick bites can be avoided with spot-on products, tick collars, and tick sprays.

However, if the dog is bitten by a tick, you should remove the tick as soon as possible. In the best-case scenario, the parasite will be removed before bacteria are transmitted to the dog. With the right preventive care, you not only protect your dog from anaplasmosis, but also from other infectious diseases such as Lyme disease.

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