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Anaplasmosis in Dogs

Anaplasmosis is a condition transmitted to dogs by infected ticks.

Anaplasmosis is a condition in dogs caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum. It's transmitted by the bite of deer ticks that are carrying the bacteria. Another form of the condition is caused by the bacteria Anaplasma platys, and it's spread by the brown dog tick.

Signs of Anaplasmosis in Dogs

If a dog has contracted Anaplasma phagocytophilum, he may show some or all of the following signs of illness:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased or absent appetite
  • Shifting leg lameness (limping on one leg, then the other)

Signs that occur sometimes but not as often as those above include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Some dogs with anaplasmosis develop a condition called cyclic thrombocytopenia. That means they develop low platelet levels every so often, which can lead to abnormal blood clotting. The symptoms of that may be recurrent nosebleeds or skin bruising. Cyclic thrombocytopenia is associated with infection by Anaplasma platys.

The signs of anaplasmosis are similar to those of Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis, which are also tick-borne conditions. Also, it's relatively common for a dog to have both Lyme disease and anaplasmosis at the same time or some combination of those conditions and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Diagnosis of Canine Anaplasmosis

Quick tests that can be done on a blood sample right in a veterinarian's office are available for diagnosing anaplasmosis. Additionally, several tests can be run at a lab to help determine whether there is an active infection going on.

Treatment of Anaplasmosis in Dogs

Treatment of anaplasmosis in dogs is the same as it is for ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease: doxycycline. The antibiotic is usually given for about a month.

Sometimes a healthy dog without signs of illness will test positive for anaplasmosis. Most experts agree those dogs should not be treated with antibiotics because it isn't known with certainty that treatment completely clears the organism out of the dog's system.

However, dogs that test positive for the condition even without signs of illness have certainly been exposed to tick bites. An aggressive tick prevention program should be implemented for all the animals in the home. Your veterinarian is best suited to help you create such a plan for your particular geographic area and circumstances. Check your dog for ticks every day. Remove any you find.

It isn't known with certainty whether dogs can become carriers of anaplasmosis, remaining clinically healthy but able to spread the disease if a tick bites them and then another dog.

Can I Get Anaplasmosis From My Dog?

Anaplasmosis is considered zoonotic (able to be passed from a dog to a human). However, there are no documented cases of it actually happening. If a dog is diagnosed with the condition, though, it means there are infected ticks in the area that can transmit the condition directly to humans, so appropriate measures should be taken to minimize tick exposure.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Lyme Disease in Dogs

Tips for Giving Oral Medication to Your Dog

Brucellosis in Dogs

Ehrlichiosis in Dogs


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