Signs of Tick Fever in Dogs

Deer ticks can spread tick fever to your dog.
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Tick fever, also known as canine anaplasmosis or infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia, is a bacterial infection spread by ticks. Similar to Lyme disease, tick fever is most common in the Upper Midwest. Tick fever transmission occurs through the deer tick, western black-legged tick and the brown dog tick. The bacteria responsible are Anaplasma phagocytophilum or Anaplasma platys. Symptoms typically surface in three stages.

Stage One

After a tick bite, symptoms of tick fever do not typically surface for one to three weeks. Symptoms in stage one include lethargy, poor appetite, muscle tenderness, enlarged lymph nodes, fever and joint pain. Symptoms last one to seven days; many dogs are able to fight off the bacteria at this stage. If that is the case, they do not progress to stages two and three.

Stage Two

Stage two is the subclinical phase where your dog may appear healthy. During this phase, the bacteria hide out in the spleen, causing an elevated globulin level and reduced platelet count in the blood. No symptoms are present. This stage can last for months or even years before progressing to stage three.

Stage Three

Stage three of tick fever is the chronic stage and symptoms return. During this stage, platelet count drops and causes abnormal bleeding. In addition to the symptoms in stage one, you may notice bruising, blood in the urine or a bloody nose. Other possible symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, coughing and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, seizures or other neurological complications are possible.