Tick fever in dogs and How to Prevent it - Veterinarian's suggestion
Tick fever, or canine ehrlichiosis, is a canine disease spread by the bite of the brown dog tick. Ehrlichiosis is a serious disease that may cause brain damage and severe anemia. Ehrlichiosis can be treated with penicillin based drugs. Here's what you should know about the symptoms and treatment of ehrlichiosis.
Transmission of Ehrlichiosis
Ehrlichiosis, or canine tick fever, is transmitted through the bite of the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. The disease was first spotted in military service dogs during the Vietnam War, and is sometimes known as tracker's disease. Canine tick fever is contagious to humans, who can also catch the disease if they're bitten by the brown dog tick.
Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis
Ehrlichiosis occurs in three stages: acute, sub-clinical and chronic. Dogs in the acute phase of the disease suffer from swollen lymph nodes, respiratory distress, fever, weight loss, neurological problems and bleeding disorders. During the sub-clinical phase, the dog shows no symptoms. If your dog has a strong immune system, his body may overcome ehrlichiosis during the sub-clinical phase.
If your dog's immune system fails to overcome canine tick fever, he'll progress into the third stage of the disease, chronic infection. Dogs in this stage of the disease are at risk for serious complications, including:
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Eye hemorrhage and other vision problems
- Neurological disturbances
- Thrombocytopenia, or inadequate production of platelets, which allow blood to clot
- Swelling of the limbs
- Bone marrow failure
The chronic phase of ehrlichiosis can be deadly.
Diagnosing Canine Tick Fever
Diagnosing ehrlichiosis can be tricky during the initial two or three weeks of infection. Blood tests for canine tick fever check your dog's blood for antibodies against this disease, but your dog's immune system won't produce those antibodies until two or three weeks after the infection takes hold. For this reason, blood tests performed during the initial phases of infection can come back falsely negative. If an initial blood test for ehrlichiosis comes back negative, your vet may order a second confirmation test a week or two later.
If you find large, engorged ticks on your dog, he's at risk for contracting ehrlichiosis. The longer a tick feeds from your dog, the more likely he could have contracted the disease. Have your dog tested for ehrlichiosis within eight weeks if you find an engorged tick on your dog. If your dog exhibits symptoms of ehrlichiosis, make sure you tell your vet about finding any engorged ticks.
Treating Canine Tick Fever
Ehrlichiosis is treated with penicillin based drugs. Most dogs will need antibiotics for 10 to 30 days, but some dogs may require medication for up to four months.
Canine tick fever is easy to prevent. Keep any ticks out of your environment and away from your dog. The best way to do this is with a spot on flea and tick repellent . These products keep ticks from biting your dog. Apart from this regular fumigation of your home (specially for those pet parents who has more than one dogs), checking cracks and cravises (like ears, paws) after morning walks are also important. Flea collers, tick and flea baths are effective.
Neem has been proven as a great ectoparasiticidal. Pet parent can make a paste of raw fresh neem leaves and offer the dog a good body massage mixing it with little coconut oil followed by a gentle bath with tick and flea shampoo of your choice. (Just a bit of Herbal formula :)