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Canine Ehrlichiosis

  • by Bec
  • 3 min read

Canine Ehrlichiosis is a potentially deadly blood borne disease affecting dog’s. Although it is widespread throughout the world it was only first discovered in Australia in May 2020. Canine Ehrlichiosis has now been detected in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. Ehrlichiosis is caused by the bacteria Ehrlichia canis and is transmitted through the bite of an infected Brown Dog Tick.

Symptoms of Ehrlichiosis infection

There are three phases of an Ehrlichiosis infection in dogs. Symptoms of the acute phase of the disease typically lasting for 2-4 weeks after infection can be mild or severe. Symptoms include;

  • Lethargy 
  • Fever
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Anaemia
  • Bleeding from the nose, eyes, rectum
  • Bruising or haemorrhages under the skin

After the initial acute phase, some dogs will manage to fight off the infection. Others will enter the sub-clinical phase. During this phase a dog will no longer present with symptoms (or only very mild symptoms) but the bacteria will still be present in their blood. These dogs remain as carriers of the disease, meaning a tick could bite them, contract the bacteria and then bite another dog, resulting in the spread of Ehrlichiosis.

Then come. the sub-clinical phase dogs can move into the clinical/chronic stage of the disease. This is when the previously mentioned symptoms usually become quite severe with additional multi organ problems and this then often results in death. 

Prevention of Ehrlichiosis

For a dog to contract Ehrlichiosis it must be bitten by an infected Brown Dog Tick. The disease will not spread from dog to dog. Therefore the best way to prevent your dog from contracting Ehrlichiosis is to ensure that they are on a suitable tick control program. The most effective method to protect your dog is to use a combination of products. Using tick repellent products, like Advantix or Seresto collars, is ideal to deter the ticks from getting on your dog. Use this in combination with a product that kills ticks if they bite your dog, like Bravecto, NexGard or Simparica. Whatever product you choose to use, make sure that it is effective against the Brown Dog Tick. Always follow the directions and use it at the correct recommended interval for Brown Dog Tick protection.   

Treatment and Diagnosis of Ehrlichiosis

Early treatment and diagnosis of Ehrlichiosis is always best. Therefore, if you notice any symptoms of Ehrlichiosis and your dog could have possibly been bitten by a Brown Dog Tick please contact your veterinarian immediately. Ehrlichiosis is a notifiable disease in Australia. This means that if your dog contracts the disease it must be reported to the Emergency Animal Disease hotline on 1800 675 888.

More information on Ehrlichiosis

For more information on Canine Ehrlichiosis tune into the myPET Podcast Episode: Canine Ehrlichiosis; a deadly tick-borne disease. During this episode, resident Vet Dr Glenn and Aria from vet-n-pet DIRECT talk about how Ehrlichiosis was found in Australia and what this means for dog owners and veterinarians. They also discuss the symptoms of Ehrlichiosis and how this bacterial infection is treated by veterinarians. Tune in to learn everything you need to know about this new disease infecting Australian dogs.

Tune into episodes of the myPET Podcast on the vet-n-pet DIRECT YouTube Channel or on iTunes or Stitcher, just search for myPET Podcast, or listen through our website at

Originally published in myPet Magazine Issue 23 Spring/Summer 2021-2022 .

To view all issues of myPet Magazine click here.

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