Pet Talk
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Pet Talk

April 7, 2021

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka describes about tick fever in dogs, its treatment

By Maneka Gandhi

My dog is sneezing. Does he have a cold?

There are many reasons that cause sneezing in a dog, which can vary from irritation in their nose, dust, house hold products, perfume, pollen, allergy from flea bite or food. It should be of concern, and the vet should be immediately contacted if it is canine influenza virus or if the dog, along with sneezing, is making a honking sound and seems unable to breathe, which could be a sign of a tracheal collapse.

What is tick fever?

Tick fever is a broad, generic term that identifies a group of diseases. This group includes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis. The most common tick fever in India is Canine Babesiosis. Babesia Canis and Babesia Gibsoni are the only two species known to infect dogs.

Infection occurs when an infected tick bites a dog and releases the infection into the dog’s bloodstream. It is not necessary that the dog has to have many ticks — even a single infected tick will give tick fever to a dog. New ticks pick up the infection by biting an infected dog. It is highly contagious, since the tick will find another host/ dog and spread the disease. The dog’s immune system recognises the infected cells and destroys them, leading to anaemia.

 What are the symptoms of tick fever?

Initial symptoms will show disinterest, lethargy. The dog will develop a high fever and may start looking pale. In the later stages, temperature reverses and will consistently stay below the normal range.

How do I confirm tick fever?

Only through a blood test. Purely on physical examination it’s extremely difficult to diagnose either babesiosis or ehrlichiosis, because their symptoms mimic those of several other diseases. Do not allow the vet to rely on physical examination alone. Insist on a blood test.

How does it develop?

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After the tick bites, the disease takes 10-21 days to develop. The dog becomes anaemic, and urine may turn visibly red because of the destruction of the Red Blood Corpuscles (RBCs). Tick fever may be classified as uncomplicated, or complicated — but both are serious conditions.

In uncomplicated cases, dogs are acutely ill with fever, depression, anorexia, pale gums and dark urine. Some dogs will become jaundiced, with yellow gums and eyes, and some may collapse suddenly.

In complicated cases, signs may include acute kidney failure, neurological disorders, swelling of the legs, or breathing problems. Shock, vomiting and death may also occur.

What is the treatment?

Treatment is aimed at clearing the infection and reversing the anaemia.

Day 1: Dog gets 1st Imizol / Berenil injection + Doxycyclin and fluids.

Day 1-21: Administration of oral Doxycycline (human med). Doxycycline is a part of the tetracycline family of antibiotics and is the only proven cure for tick fever. A typical dose is 100mg / 20kg of weight, twice a day. The dose may vary on the condition of the dog — please check with your vet. 1 Rantac (human med) to prevent acidity. IV as required on the amount of food the dog is taking and hydration requirements. Vitamin B and Vitamin K supplements.

Day 21: 2nd Imizol / Berenil injection. Perform another blood test to see condition and determine continuation of treatment.


In the initial stage: In case the anaemia is severe and gums show paleness it is critical that IV is controlled, since high IV administration will cause the blood to dilute even more to the point of causing shock and eventual death of the dog.

During the treatment: Depending on the level of anaemia, the condition of the kidneys, blood transfusion may be recommended and produce good results.

After the treatment: In some dogs, a relapse may occur and so it is important to monitor the dog for up to 2 months.

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Why do dogs sometimes bark without any reason?

All dogs bark, it is their main form of communication and it is completely normal. It’s like asking why humans talk. Their reasons for barking, however, are not always obvious to humans. They may be barking because of separation anxiety, to establish and maintain territory, due to illness or injury, as a form of alarm, from frustration or seeking attention, as a greeting or as part of a social situation.

Why are some dogs’ eyes always red?

No dog’s eyes are always red. The most common cause of red eyes in dogs is the Environmental irritants and allergens; like people, elements in the environment, such as dirt, dust, and cigarette smoke, can irritate your dog’s eyes. Your dog may also develop environmental allergies to trees, grasses, flowers, insects, etc. You should contact a vet, because the dog’s cornea may develop an ulcer, if the dog scratches or the infection spreads.

Does hitting a dog on the nose hurt them?

First of all, it should be considered that a dog’s nose is a sensitive area. Surely, his nose is quite powerful in detecting smells, but it’s just made of cartilage and soft tissue and it has a blood supply of arteries and veins and nerves. It is therefore an overall delicate area considering its internal nasal structures. A traumatic injury in dogs can cause bleeding and pain that may require veterinary attention. So, dogs should not be tapped, smacked or punched on the nose with the hands, or other objects, for any reason.

Do dogs remember if you hit them?

If you hit a dog, he will probably forgive you but he won’t forget. He will also probably think that he did something wrong. A dog may also learn that he should fear you after you hit him. They may not forgive in the way we understand it, but they do remember.


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