Pet Insurance Quotes

Anaplasmosis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

anaplasmosis in dogs

If you are the proud owner of a canine best friend, it’s beneficial to be able to recognize common illnesses – such as anaplasmosis – that can have your buddy feeling under the weather. As with most illnesses, the sooner you identify the symptoms and obtain treatment, the greater the likelihood of a complete recovery increases.

What Causes Anaplasmosis?

You probably have your dog vaccinated for Lyme disease if you live in an area where ticks are common, but it isn’t the only tick-borne disease. Anaplasmosis is also caused by a tick bite, but only causes problems if the tick is infected with bacteria. The three types of ticks that cause this disease are the brown dog tick, the deer tick, or the western black-legged tick. The dangerous bacteria transmitted by these ticks are called A. phagocytophilum, A. platys, or Anaplasma platys.


Dogs can start showing symptoms of anaplasmosis within a day or two of being infected. The signs are quite similar to those found in Lyme disease. These symptoms include:

  • Your dog may start to limp, or refuse to walk at all due to pain in its joints.
  • You may notice that your dog suddenly seems lethargic and has little interest in playing.
  • Your canine may have little or no appetite and show no interest in its favorite treats. It may also be difficult to get your pet to drink water, and this can lead to dehydration.
  • Your dog may have a fever. You can determine this by using a thermometer that is specially made for dogs and using it in its ear. Anything over 102F is a fever in canines. If you don’t have a thermometer, feel the dog’s nose and the back of its ears. If the nose is dry and warmer than usual, or the area behind the ears is warmer than normal, your canine friend probably has a fever.
  • Other symptoms that are less common can include vomiting and diarrhea. Your dog may also cough or have seizures, but these symptoms aren’t seen often.
  • Another form of anaplasmosis is caused by the A.platys bacteria, and it results in a different symptom. This type can cause problems with blood clotting. Symptoms such as bruising, a nose bleed, or red splotches on the dog’s gums and belly are indications of this form of the disease.


Taking your dog to your veterinarian is the best course of action any time that you suspect your dog is ill. He or she will be able to determine if the dog has anaplasmosis or some other serious illness.

The vet will do an antibody test or various other tests that can determine whether the dog has anaplasmosis. These tests are typically sent to a lab, and you should know the results within a day or two.

During the peak stage of infection, the organism can often be seen by looking at a sample of the dog’s blood with a microscope.

Treatment Options

If you obtain treatment for your dog soon after spotting any troublesome symptoms, your canine friend has an excellent chance of recovery. Many dogs show remarkable signs of improvement within 24 to 48 hours after treatment has started.

One of the most common treatment options is the drug doxycycline. It is generally administered for 30 days to ensure that the canine recovers well.

Preventative Treatment

Many veterinarians believe that it takes about 24-hours or longer for a tick to transmit the anaplasmosis disease once it attaches itself to the animal. This is good news for dog owners who have their pets on an effective preventative medication because typically these treatments kill the tick before the 24-hour time period has passed. Although anaplasmosis is still seen in animals who are on preventative medication, it’s less likely.

One of the most effective preventatives is to carefully examine your dog daily for any ticks, removing the ticks when discovered. Examine your dog between the toes, underneath its collar, behind the ears, and under the armpits. Carefully run your fingers through your dog’s fur, checking for any bumps. Ticks vary in size. They can be as small as a pinhead or as large as a grape. Ticks are usually dark brown, but they can be black and often turn grey when they are attached and feeding. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as you can. Do this by using tweezers or a special tick removal device found in pet stores. Dispose of the insect by placing it in a small amount of rubbing alcohol or by flushing it down the toilet.

Checking your canine friend for ticks is particularly important if your dog has been romping through a field or other area with tall grass. Practicing this preventative technique daily and watching your dog for any symptoms of disease helps ensure that your little buddy can live a long, happy, and healthy life.

Free Pet Insurance Quotes Now

Related Content

Get Free Quotes!

Compare Plans and Prices from the Top Companies