Fighting a stealthy invader

By Connie Orcutt • Published: October 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

Ehrlichia [air-LEEK-ē-ah] are bacteria that infect dogs and other animals as well as humans. These invaders are usually transmitted by ticks, then sneak into an animal’s white blood cells where they do their damage under cover.

Some dogs fight off ehrlichiosis with prompt treatment, but others remain infected. This latter group may not appear ill for years, but they can get very sick at any time.

Up to 60 percent of dogs with chronic, long-term ehrlichiosis have unusual bleeding, such as blood streaking under the skin or bruising. Some dogs develop neurologic signs, such as unsteadiness or paralysis, or eye problems. Still others develop fevers, enlarged lymph nodes or arthritis.

Fortunately, ehrlichiosis can be diagnosed and treated. But your four-legged friend’s chances are best if you get help as soon as you notice any of these signs.