Ticks are not only disgusting little blood-sucking creatures, they are dangerous, too. Ticks are one of the primary couriers for transmitting certain infectious diseases, collectively called “vector-borne [or, tick-borne] diseases,” of which canine anaplasmosis is one. Canine anaplasmosis can be found throughout the United States, primarily in the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central states, as well as in California.
If you're interested in what ticks look like and the different types of ticks lurking, visit dogsandticks.com (if you haven't gathered, we think it's a great resource for pet-owners who want to know more about tick-borne diseases).
So, how do these nasty ticks infect your dog with anaplasmosis? Ticks acquire the bacteria that cause the disease from feeding on an infected host animal, such as a rodent or a deer. Then, they pass the bacteria to your four-legged friend by biting him and ingesting his blood.
If Fido has been infected with anaplasmosis, he may exhibit some of the following signs:
- Joint pain and stiffness similar to the symptoms of arthritis
- High fever
- Loss of appetite
- Neurological signs resulting in seizures and neck pain (infrequent)
Although the two forms of anaplasmosis present with different signs, both may pose a serious threat to your dog's health and can be difficult to diagnose, based on clinical signs alone.
Upon examination, if your veterinarian suspects an infection they may recommend the following tests:
- Baseline bloodwork, including a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry tests, and urinalysis to evaluate organ function and blood-related conditions, such as anemia and clotting abnormalities.
- An antibody test to identify if your pet has been exposed to the organism that causes anaplasmosis
- Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
- PCR testing to detect the organism in the blood in the early stages of infection
If your dog has been infected with anaplasmosis and is clinically ill, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe an antibiotic, such as doxycycline or tetracycline. The good news is that, in most cases, symptoms begin to resolve within 1–4 days! Your veterinarian may recommend repeating the CBC after your pet has been on medication for a period of time, to make sure the antibiotic treatment has been effective. In more severe cases, some dogs require other medications or hospitalization.
Protecting your best friend from ticks is the most important step in preventing her from contracting any tick-borne disease! Because the signs of tick-borne diseases, like anaplasmosis, are so varied, it is vital that you have your pet screened routinely for these vector-borne diseases.
The good news is there are several ways to protect your pet and very effective tick-prevention products and medications available both over the counter and from your veterinarian. To learn more about these products, as well as more about how you can prevent your pet from being bitten by a tick, we recommend (again) you visit dogsandticks.com.
[Annual testing is important to protect your dog from ticks. Learn more here.]
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Beware the Bug
By Dr. Ruth MacPete
Anaplasma is spread by ticks. As the weather gets warmer and dogs spend more time outside, they’re more likely to be exposed to these creepy parasites and all of the diseases they carry. Read more> Or learn more about dogs and parasites >
Friday, September 11, 2015
Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis in Dogs and People
Anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are the terms used to describe the diseases caused by bacterial organisms known as Anaplasma and Ehrlichia, respectively. Many of the Anaplasma organisms were previously classified as Ehrlichia so you may still see them referred to that way in some references.
Typically transmitted by deer and brown dog ticks, canine anaplasmosis in dogs is a bacterial infection that causes joint pain, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite about one week after Fido is bitten. Veterinarians can identify it with a battery of tests, and the prognosis is pretty good if you catch the disease early and begin treating your dog with the antibiotic doxycycline. In rare instances it can cause seizures and kidney disease, both of which can be fatal.
Is A Tick On A Dog Dangerous?
Generally speaking, ticks are not dangerous to dogs as once they have finished feeding they usually hop right off to digest their meal. They may leave behind scabs or irritated and inflamed skin.
Ticks are only dangerous when they transmit diseases by releasing saliva into the dog’s blood, though again these instances are usually rare.
However, as soon as you notice your dog behaving differently, such as showing a loss of appetite or changes in physical condition, immediately contact your vet for assistance.
Regardless of how dangerous ticks are, it is very important to remove any ticks with a tick removal tool as soon as you spot them on your dog.
What Happens When A Tick Gets On A Dog?
When a tick finds its way onto a dog, it will try to move itself to a good area such as the neck or feet to latch onto. It will then open a wound, attach itself firmly, and feed on its victim’s blood. It will stay there for several days before dropping off when it is finally engorged.
Normally nothing serious will happen to the dog, though sometimes scabs or inflamed skin can result. Very rarely, skin infections can develop and certain diseases can also be transmitted from the tick to the dog.
Osteoarthritis in Dogs — Signs and Treatment
Osteoarthritis is a common problem in dogs, particularly in seniors and large breeds. Although there is no cure for this progressive condition, identifying the problem early and initiating appropriate management can help keep your dog active and improve quality of life.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis, also referred to as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), is a progressively worsening inflammation of the joint caused by the deterioration of cartilage. In a healthy joint, cartilage acts as a cushion to allow the joint to move smoothly through its full range of motion. In cases of osteoarthritis, this cartilage cushion begins to break down because of factors such as age, injury, repetitive stress, or disease. The loss of this protective cushion results in pain, inflammation, decreased range of motion, and the development of bone spurs. While any joint in the body can develop osteoarthritis, the condition most commonly affects the limbs and lower spine.
Risk Factors for Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Any dog can develop osteoarthritis, particularly as they age. But there are some factors that can predispose your dog to this condition, such as:
- Large or giant breeds, such as German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers
- Age, particularly middle-age to senior dogs
- Repetitive stress from athletic activities such as agility, flyball, or diving
- Injuries such as fractures or ligament tears
- Prior diagnosis of hip or elbow dysplasia
- Infections that affect the joints, such as Lyme Disease
- Improper nutrition
- Poor conformation
If your dog is predisposed to developing osteoarthritis, it is especially important to stay up-to-date with regular wellness visits to your veterinarian. They can help ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight and active lifestyle, and can often catch signs of osteoarthritis early before the problem becomes serious.
Signs of Osteoarthritis in Dogs
Osteoarthritis can be difficult to detect in its early stages, and often the symptoms do not become apparent until the affected joint is badly damaged. Some dogs can also be very stoic and will hide their pain until it becomes severe. Thus, it is important to monitor middle-aged to senior dogs and those predisposed to osteoarthritis for early signs of joint disease. These signs include:
- Stiffness, lameness, limping, or difficulty getting up
- Reluctance to run, jump, or play
- Weight gain
- Irritability or changes in behavior
- Pain when petted or touched
- Difficulty posturing to urinate or defecate, or having accidents in the house
- Loss of muscle mass over the limbs and spine
If you suspect your dog may be exhibiting signs of osteoarthritis, it is important to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian, who will perform a full physical examination, including palpating your dog’s joints and assessing their range of motion. Your veterinarian may also recommend X-rays of the affected joints, which will help rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. X-rays can also help your veterinarian evaluate the degree of damage to the joint.
Treatment of Osteoarthritis
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is a progressive disease and there is no known cure. Preventing the development of osteoarthritis through diet, exercise, and the use of protective joint supplements is the best way to keep your dog’s joints healthy. When osteoarthritis develops, treatment is typically focused on controlling pain, decreasing inflammation, improving quality of life, and slowing the development of the disease. Treatment of osteoarthritis is usually multimodal, meaning that several different therapies are used simultaneously in order to achieve the best outcome.
These are often prescribed to improve function, reduce inflammation, and slow the progression of joint damage. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two common joint supplement ingredients that are used in both humans and dogs. These supplements work by reducing inflammation, promoting healing, and increasing water retention in the cartilage, which provides more cushioning for the joint. Green-lipped mussel (GLM) is another proven joint supplement ingredient for both humans and dogs and contains beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, glycosaminoglycans, and antioxidants. GLM is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help decrease pain and preserve joint function. Joint supplements like Glyde Mobility Chews are often used as an early intervention and throughout the progression of osteoarthritis because they are safe for long-term use in most patients.
In addition to the use of joint supplements, pain control is a mainstay of osteoarthritis treatment. The most commonly used pain control medications for more severe osteoarthritis are Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can not only reduce pain, but also decrease inflammation in the joints. However, NSAIDs have significant side effects with continued use, particularly in patients with poor liver or kidney function. Your veterinarian will discuss the risks and benefits of NSAID therapy for your dog, and may recommend regular blood work in order to monitor your dog’s health during NSAID therapy.
Your veterinarian may also recommend other treatment modalities such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, cold laser, and changes in diet. In severe cases, they may recommend surgery to remove damaged tissue from the joint, or even to replace the joint entirely.
No matter what your dog’s joint health looks like, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle. In dogs with osteoarthritis, carrying excess weight on damaged joints is not only painful, but can also speed up the process of cartilage breakdown. In healthy dogs, obesity can predispose them to earlier development of osteoarthritis, as well as many other diseases. If your dog is overweight or obese, your veterinarian is your best resource to help you begin a diet and exercise plan to improve your dog’s health.
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition, but fortunately, it can be managed. Maintaining your dog at a healthy weight and identifying signs of joint pain early are the first steps to maintaining your dog’s mobility. Joint supplements may also help manage inflammation and pain, as well as slow the progression of the disease.
Parnell’s Glyde Mobility Chews are a joint supplement with strong scientific backing, containing the unique combination of green-lipped mussel (GLM), glucosamine, and chondroitin to promote healthy joints. GLM contains beneficial nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, GLM can help decrease pain and preserve joint function. Glyde Mobility Chews are the only joint supplement with proven levels of these key ingredients to help maintain youthful mobility throughout your dog’s life. With Glyde, protecting your dog’s joints throughout their life is as easy as giving them a daily chew that they think is a treat.