Bitten By A Brown Dog Tick? Watch Out For Ehrlichiosis
If you found a brown dog tick latched on to your dog, hopefully you removed it with a swift tug and without twisting. If you did so promptly after the tick attached itself, you minimized the risk of the tick passing on any diseases to your dog. Still, it's important to be on the lookout for signs of tick-borne infections in the weeks that follow. Ehrlichiosis, in particular, is a disease spread by the brown dog tick. Here's what you must know about this disease.
What are the symptoms of Ehrlichiosis?
The symptoms of this disease first appear a couple of weeks after the dog has been bitten by the tick. At this point, the dog develops what are known as "acute" symptoms -- which are severe and short-lived. These symptoms might include fever, weight loss, bleeding from the nose, enlarged lymph nodes, and extreme lethargy. If you wait through this phase, it usually passes. But then the disease becomes chronic, causing flare-ups from time to time. These flare-ups cause similar symptoms to the initial, acute attack.
How is Ehrlichiosis diagnosed?
If your dog shows symptoms of this disease, your vet can administer a simple blood test to determine if your dog has Ehrlichiosis. The tests may take a couple of days to receive, so it's not uncommon for vets to start treatment before the official diagnosis is received.
How is Ehrlichiosis treated?
Treatment is best administered when the dog is having the acute attack. Your vet will prescribe antibiotics -- usually doxycycline -- for 30 to 60 days, depending on your dog's response. Sometimes, the antibiotics must first be administered intravenously in order to achieve greater effectiveness, but then you can continue giving your dog antibiotics by mouth at home.
How can you protect your dog from Ehrlichiosis?
The best way to protect your dog from Ehrlichiosis is to keep ticks off of him or her. Make sure you are using a tick repellent medication on a regular basis. (There are both spot-on and oral preparations, and most must be given once a month.) Keep the weeds and grass in your yard trimmed down, and always check your dog for ticks after he or she spends time in the woods.
If your dog has been bitten by a brown dog tick, make sure you watch out for Ehrlichiosis symptoms. If you do suspect illness, reach out to your animal hospital as soon as possible.