Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis in Dogs, Cats and People

Tick-borne zoonotic diseases that can threaten your family and pets

Engorged Tick on a Dog

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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.

Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis in Dogs and Cats

Anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis are both diseases that are carried by ticks. When an animal or person is bitten by an infected tick, they can become infected with the disease.

Signs in Dogs

Signs seen in dogs for both diseases can range from subclinical (showing little to no sign of disease) to life-threatening.

When seen, signs may include:

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody noses
  • Bruises
  • Joint pain and stiffness
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye disease
  • Neurological abnormalities

Signs in Cats

In cats, signs are not as well described. However, some of the symptoms reported have included:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bruising
  • Joint pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Anaplasma and Ehrlichia Infections in People

People become infected with anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis in essentially the same way that dogs and cats do, through the bite of an infected tick. Typically, neither disease is passed directly from your dog or cat to you. However, both your dog and your cat can bring ticks into your home that can endanger you and your family.

In people, these diseases are also sometimes referred to as human monocytic ehrlichiosis or human granulocytic ehrlichiosis (HGE), although HGE is most commonly referred to now as human anaplasmosis.

Prevention for Your Family and Your Pets

Since ticks are the means by which these diseases are transmitted, it makes sense that preventing tick bites and controlling ticks is the best method of preventing infection.

Consider using an effective flea and tick control product for your dogs and cats. Check all pets thoroughly for ticks on a regular basis and remove them promptly when found.

Check yourself thoroughly for ticks if you have been outdoors, particularly if you have been in a wooded area or another high-risk tick environment. Check your children thoroughly as well. Remove any ticks found promptly. Consider using insect repellent when planning to visit areas likely to be infested with ticks.

Take measures to keep ticks out of your yard. Keep your grass mowed short and remove any high grasses or brush from near your house.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.