Tick Illness — Ehrlichiosis

Brown Dog Tick (Image from Wikipedia)

Even though we live in Missouri, which is well known for its large tick population, we never gave tick borne illnesses a lot of thought. A couple of weeks ago, our English Springer Spaniel, Lily, came down with what seemed to be a respiratory illness. She had a cough, runny nose and runny eyes. We took her to the vet and the symptoms seemed consistent with a respiratory illness. The vet treated her with an antibiotic and a cough medicine. Lily improved. However, once the course of antibiotics were over, she presented with a different set of symptoms about two weeks later.

Prior to her “respiratory illness,” we had Lily at the HRC to practice. She got covered with about 50 ticks. Of course, we diligently removed them but missed a few. The vet removed a few ticks during her visit, but honestly no one really gave it a second thought.

A few weeks later, Lily started limping and could hardly move. She was lethargic and displayed obvious discomfort. We weren’t sure if she hurt herself. Back to the vet and a blood draw revealed she had been infected with Ehrlichiosis, a tick borne disease, prevalent in Missouri. Some dogs like German Shepherds are more likely to develop the serious form of the illness. Our Springer was on track to become seriously ill. A couple of day on an antibiotic, steroids, and a pain medicine, Lily is walking and even running for short bursts.

Moral of the story, tick borne illnesses do not always present how you would think — appearing to be a respiratory illness. Use a tick preventative, remove all the ticks within three or four hours, and watch your dog for strange symptoms.

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