How Ticks Cause Anaplasmosis in Dogs

Five Minutes
Aug 07, 2023

Ticks can carry many dangerous bacteria, including Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Bites from Anaplasma-infected ticks is what causes anaplasmosis in dogs, a harmful and potentially dangerous disease. Let’s take a closer look at anaplasmosis, what to expect during treatment, and how dog insurance might help.

What Is Anaplasmosis in Dogs?

Ticks act as vectors for an array of infectious diseases around the world, which is why dealing with ticks is so important for your pet’s health. Along with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis is a zoonotic pathogen commonly transmitted by the deer tick and the Western black-legged tick.1

Although anaplasmosis has a good prognosis, with a recovery period of 24 – 48 hours, it can still greatly affect your pup’s health and overall quality of life. If you find ticks on your dog or in your living space, keep an eye out for signs that your dog has been infected.

What Are the Signs of Anaplasmosis in Dogs?

Dogs infected with anaplasmosis typically experience joint pain, lameness in certain limbs, fever, lethargy, and a dramatic decrease in appetite. These symptoms usually appear within a week of being bitten, so you’ll have to watch your dog for several days after discovering the tick.1 Other, less common symptoms may included:1

One of the possible long-term effects of anaplasmosis in dogs is called cyclic thrombocytopenia. This causes a temporary decrease in your dog’s platelets. Because platelets are key to the blood clotting process, dogs with cyclic thrombocytopenia may exhibit bruising and nosebleeds.

If you notice any of these symptoms within 1 – 2 weeks of your dog being bitten, it may be time to bring them to your veterinary clinic for an official diagnosis. There are multiple ways to detect Anaplasma phagocytophilum, including special test kits, indirect fluorescent antibody tests, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, and polymerase chain reaction tests.1 Your vet may use some or all of these. If your dog tests positive for anaplasmosis, you’ll begin treatment based on your vet’s recommendations.

It’s possible your dog may test positive for anaplasmosis, despite having no symptoms or clinical signs. This could indicate that your dog is carrying the infectious bacteria, even though their health hasn’t declined. Regardless, you should still seek treatment. Even if your pup never falls ill from anaplasmosis, it could make them more vulnerable to other diseases in the future.

Anaplasmosis in Dogs: Treatment and Recovery

Treating anaplasmosis in dogs is relatively simple. As with most tick-borne diseases, your vet may prescribe an antibiotic called doxycycline. This is a common antibiotic that’s prescribed to dogs for a variety of reasons. Most dogs can take it with no side effects, but it’s possible your pooch could experience vomiting or diarrhea.2 Speak to your vet if this happens to make sure everything is OK.

Treatment can last as long as 4 weeks, but most dogs recover rapidly once they start taking doxycycline regularly. Even if the symptoms appear to have cleared up, you should still follow your vet’s prescribed regimen. Once the antibiotics have run out, it’s a good idea to bring your pup to the vet for a final checkup and clean bill of health.

How Much Does Anaplasmosis in Dogs Cost?

Anaplasmosis may not be a deadly disease, but it can still be fairly expensive to deal with. Doxycycline can cost $18 for sixty 100-mg capsules, but vet bills for testing and diagnosis are usually higher.3 All told, the average cost of dealing with anaplasmosis is about $350, although it can reach $500.4

Any unexpected veterinary bills can be a heavy burden for pet parents. A dog insurance policy with illness coverage may be able to reimburse you for the cost of diagnosis as well as treatment. You can get a free quote from MetLife Pet to find out how much you could save on anaplasmosis treatment and more.

Pet Insurance Can Help Cover Pet Injury & Illness Costs


**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “Anaplasmosis in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

2 “Doxycycline For Dogs: Uses and Side Effects,” AKC

3 "DOXYCYCLINE Monohydrate (Generic), 100-mg, 60 capsules,” Chewy

4 “Anaplasmosis in Dogs — Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost,” Wag Walking

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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