Understanding Anaplasmosis in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

It is caused by a pathogen called Anaplasma bacteria, which can be transmitted through tick saliva. This disease affects mammals like cattle, horses, and dogs. AnimalWised aims to understand its causes, symptoms, treatment, management, and prevention in dogs.

What causes canine anaplasmosis?

An infectious condition known as canine anaplasmosis is brought on by bacteria of the genus Anaplasma. Although these bacteria are the direct cause of canine anaplasmosis, the bacteria’s vector is also a contributing factor. Canine anaplasmosis, a disease spread by ticks, is brought on by tick bites on a dog’s skin. The vector in this situation is the tick.

Image Credit : sonia Kneepkens

Ticks consume animal blood as food. They accomplish this by rupturing their host’s epidermis and blood arteries with their chelicerae. These are lengthy rods with teeth on the end that are attached to the tick’s mouth. 

Once the skin has been broken, they examine the chemicals produced to determine the viability of the host and, if they desire to feed, they thoroughly attach themselves. Ticks can therefore stay on a dog’s skin for days at a time.

When a tick feeds, blood enters the tick as well. Anaplasma and other tick-borne bacteria can get into the dog’s circulation. There is a longer window of opportunity for an illness to develop since ticks remain on the dog’s skin to feed for at least 18 to 24 hours. The bacteria anaplasma are parasitic intracellular obligates. Because they parasitize blood cells, they must reside inside cells. Anaplasmosis symptoms are the result of this.

species of Anaplasma that impact dogs

There are numerous anaplasma bacterial species. Given that not all parasite bacteria share the same host, just two of them are thought to be responsible for canine anaplasmosis. The following anaplasma bacteria can infect dogs:


Image Credit : Eldad Hagar

Canine granulocytic anaplasmosis is caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum[1].

The cause of infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia is Anaplasma platys.

Ticks can also be infected by other infections besides these two. Canine babesiosis and Lyme disease (borreliosis), two additional tick-borne illnesses that can infect canines and complicate diagnosis

Although we should be notified if we locate ticks or tick bites on our dog’s skin, the diagnosis is initially based on clinical indications. To identify the correct infection and choose the best course of therapy, a blood test for dogs will be performed.

Granulocytic anaplasmosis and infectious cyclic thrombocytopenia were previously unknown to be zoonotic diseases, or illnesses that may spread from dogs to people. Human cases have been reported since the 1990s. Given that diseases transmitted by ticks appear to be on the rise as a result of climate change and other causes, this is a rising worry for both humans and dogs[1].


Image Credit : schulze-

Anaplasmosis symptoms in dogs

This illness has a wide range of non-specific symptoms. As a result, they are common in many illnesses, which is another characteristic that may make a diagnosis more challenging. Additionally, some dogs exhibit no symptoms at all or only very minor ones. There may be persistent carriers among other dogs. The clinical picture of canine anaplasmosis includes the following symptoms:






aching joints




Ineffective coordination


Lymph node swelling


drop in platelets

elevated liver enzyme levels

whitish mucosa





increased hydration

Thrombocytopenia episodes are common with A. platys. These lead to a reduction in the dog’s platelet count, along with other periods of recovery spaced 1-2 weeks apart.

Anaplasmosis in dog diagnosis

We have seen that this condition can have a wide range of symptoms. As a result, the veterinarian will have to rely on the details we offer regarding the dog’s lifestyle to make an anaplasmosis diagnosis. Whether the dog has been in an area where ticks are present is probably included in this. Dogs who have not received a proper deworming are more vulnerable. We emphasize the significance of deworming companion animals for this reason.

The veterinarian will draw blood if anaplasmosis or other parasite illnesses are detected. Blood smears from the dog’s blood test will be examined under a microscope. Morulae are the colonies that produce anaplasma. 

Canine anaplasmosis treatment

A visit to the veterinarian is required to learn how to treat canine anaplasmosis. Antibiotics and other medications are used to treat the symptoms of this illness. A program for external deworming that is in line with the needs of the dog and its way of life and has been approved by our veterinarian is also crucial for controlling ticks.

Can my dog infect me with anaplasmosis?

It’s crucial to be aware that humans can contract anaplasmosis. The evidence from science suggests that these bacteria can infect humans. The likelihood of transmission from dogs, though, has not been clinically observed. 

Does canine anaplasmosis disappear?

Some infections spread by ticks can last the entirety of the dog’s life. The most well-known is arguably Lyme disease in canines. However, with the right antibiotic therapy, anaplasmosis can be efficiently treated. Within a day or two of receiving treatment, symptoms ought to start to subside.

Dog Anaplasmosis: Causes, Signs, and Treatment Canine anaplasmosis treatment

Canine anaplasmosis prevention

Since ticks are the primary carrier of the anaplasma bacteria, the best way to prevent canine anaplasmosis is to stay away from ticks. As a result, the following actions are being considered:

Using antiparasitic medications, ideally water-resistant ones, to control ticks

Avoid areas with a lot of ticks, such woodland areas, especially during seasons when there are more of these parasites around. Since ticks use the height to cling to the dog’s body, long grass is especially hazardous.

Examine your dog after a walk. Ticks must spend several hours attached to humans in order to spread the anaplasma bacteria, therefore getting rid of them quickly will stop infection.

We shall also take any required steps to disinfect the environment.

Make sure your dog is up to date on all required vaccinations and dewormings. If your dog doesn’t already have these, talk to your vet.