Ehrlichia is a most dreaded word for any dog owner. Recently, I’ve been hearing from so many dog owners who are absolutely floored by their beloved dog’s ehrlichia diagnosis.
Having gone through this experience not just once, but a number of times, here are some ehrlichia facts that I can share with you as a dog owner who’s been there, and done that. Note that these are just an owner’s perspective and you should ask your vet if you have any questions about this disease.
Just because you see no ticks or fleas on your dog doesn’t mean he’s not infected. This was a hard lesson for me because I take pride in the fact that my dogs are flea- and tick-free. But the thing is, many preventives do not repel ticks, and only work when your dog is bitten. This means that the ehrlichiosis gets into the bloodstream. If your dog is suddenly sick and the lab results point to possible ehrlichia, don’t argue with your vet.
It’s serious. Ehrlichia is not something to make light of. It won’t go away on its own without any treatment. In some cases, your dog might need to be confined. If your vet suggests this, don’t waste time. You may be racing against time to stop his platelet levels from further falling, which could lead to internal bleeding. Ehrlichia can also damage the kidneys and liver.
It’s treatable. This is the good news. If you act fast, your dog can be treated and pretty soon, he will be back in good spirits again.
You need veterinary care. Don’t think you can treat ehrlichia on your own. A definitive diagnosis can only be made after laboratory testing which should be done by a vet. You will also be using antibiotics for which you need a prescription. Make sure to finish the entire course of doxycycline that your vet gives, which is no shorter than 21 days.
Its symptoms can improve, only to erupt again if your dog’s immune system is weak. Ehrlichia is a chronic case, meaning, once your dog has had it, it can resurface when his immune system is weak. This is why you should continually monitor your dog. Your dog can also be reinfected by another tick bite. So be very vigilant and act quickly if your dog looks unwell.
Constant monitoring is important. A biannual check-up, which includes a blood test, is a good way to check on the health of your dog. The blood test can show you if his platelets are low, giving you time to address the problem even before other symptoms appear.
Anti-tick and anti-flea repellants are your best friend. Protect your dog by using anti-tick and anti-flea products religiously. Don’t cut corners and do it on time. This will help ensure the safety of your pet. Read my post on anti-flea and anti-tick preventives that work in the Philippines.
Remember that ehrlichia is a very common problem in the Philippines, and any dog that lives in this country is at risk for it. This is why you should be proactive and vigilant in ensuring that your dog is tick-free at all times.