kenzo1Firstly it is postulated that most dogs residing in areas endemic for ticks will test positive for antibodies and many will never display signs of the disease. It is not a recently discovered disease - it was first described in 1935 in Algerian dogs. However in 1962 a number of military dogs (GSD's) that had been stationed in Vietnam died of complications of hemorrhagic fever. It was later determined that this was caused by the ehrlichia species E.canis.

We all know that the disease is carried by infected ticks, but not everyone is aware of the stages of this killer disease which has been describes as a syndrome and the doggy equivalent of AIDS.

The disease typically progresses through stages. The first is an early acute stage (which usually mimics a mild viral infection). The signs at this stage may be very subtle and can go unnoticed. Without treatment the animal will go on to the sub-clinical second stage or may advance on to the chronic final stage. During the acute stage most if not all the damage is reversible and a full recovery is possible. It is at this stage that treatment is the most effective which emphasizes the need for early detection.

Once the chronic stage is reached, the rickettsial organism has taken up residence within the bone marrow. At this point the damage done is often irreversible. It is not unusual for dogs in this stage to suffer massive internal hemorrhaging or succumb to a sudden stroke, heart attack, renal failure, spleen rupture or liver failure resulting in death.

If there is one element of this disease that makes it especially deadly is its ability to mimic other diseases.

Listed below are some of the symptoms of the disease, bear in mind that few dogs will show all the symptoms but most will display several. Stoic dogs are difficult to diagnose, but trust your instincts and remember that you are the best judge of what is normal in your own dog and what is not. In one dog that had 2 types of infection, the only sign the owner noticed was that the dog lost interest in play.

Signs to look out for:

  • Weakness
  • Cough
  • Laboured Breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Pneumonia
  • Intermittent Fever
  • Arthritis
  • Muscle wasting
  • Discharge from eye or nose
  • Depression
  • Weight Loss
  • Anorexia
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Incontinence
  • Sensitivity of the skin
  • Head tremors
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Neck or back pain
  • Bleeding tendencies
  • Pallor due to anemia
  • Retinal hemorrhages
  • Bleeding into skin
  • Rash
  • Nose bleeds
  • Spontaneous bleeding
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Swollen lymph nodes

The above is merely a brief outline and written in the hope that more people become aware of the insidious nature and the implications of this potentially fatal disease. A peculiarity of this disease is these dogs often do not look or act as though they are in the terminal stage of disease until their final hours.

-source of article is unknown as of to date-
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