Dog: Anaplasmosis

General information

Other common/scientific names: Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Anaplasma platys, anaplasma

The tick population in the United States is exploding due to changing climate (less harsh winters), suburbanization and the increase in the deer population. Because of this, ticks are moving into new areas and bringing new diseases. As a result, tick-borne diseases in dogs are increasing. These diseases include anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, borreliosis (Lyme disease) and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases are typically infections of the blood. Because these infections are transmitted by a tick bite, a dog may be infected with more than one of these organisms at the same time.


Anaplasmosis in dogs is caused by the bacteria Anaplasma phagocytophilum or Anaplasma platys. White blood cells are part of the body’s immune system that help fight infection. The Anaplasma bacteria invade and destroy the dog’s white blood cells. This causes fever, joint pain and enlarged lymph nodes.


Dogs acquire anaplasmosis by being bit by a tick carrying the bacteria. The deer tick (Ixodes scapularis) transmits Anaplasma phagocytophilum and the brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus) transmit s Anaplasma platys.

Cardinal symptom



Clinical signs of anaplasmosis include fever, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes and loss of appetite.


Diagnosis of anaplasmosis should be made based on the presence of clinical signs and positive blood tests. As part of your dog’s annual preventative health care, your veterinarian may recommend a four way blood test to detect heartworm infection, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. This test is performed in your veterinary clinic while you wait. A positive result for anaplasmosis, however, only indicates past exposure to the bacteria not an active infection. A complete blood count should be performed since dogs with anaplasmosis will have a low platelet count. Other tests can be sent to a laboratory to detect the Anaplasma DNA in the blood.


Depending on the severity of signs, treatment for anaplasmosis involves oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.


For the most part, anaplasmosis in dogs with healthy immune systems is a mild disease and the prognosis for recovery is good. However, if a dog has more than one tick-borne infection or a weakened immune system, the prognosis may be worse.


Dogs which go outdoors in wooded, tick infested areas should have some form of tick protection such as:

Because of the warmer winters, tick protection is recommended year around.

While the topical spot-on medications are the best defense in preventing tick-borne diseases, checking your dog for ticks after walking or playing in a wooded area is recommended since it takes several hours for an attached tick to transmit disease. This is especially important if you live in a tick infested area.


When applying the topical, spot-on medications, be sure to part the hair and apply the medication directly to the skin. Do not bath or allow your dog to swim for 2 days after application. The product may need to be re-applied more often than every 30 days.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by
Join the discussion!
- This article has no comments yet -

The information offered by enpevet Ltd. is intended solely for information purposes and and does under no circumstances replace a personal consultation, examination or diagnosis through a veterinarian. Thus, the information serves as an addition to the dialogue between pet owner and veterinarian, but can never replace the visit to the veterinarian. enpevet® would like to ask all users, whose animals have health concerns, to see a veterinarian as required. If you have any questions regarding the health of your animal, we recommend that you turn to your trusted veterinarian , instead of starting, changing or breaking off treatments on your own. The content of enpevet® cannot and should not be used for making your own diagnoses or for the selection and application of treatment methods.