Ehrlichiosis can have three phases. Signs of the acute phase of the disease usually develop 1-3 weeks after the bite of the infected tick. The acute phase of the disease generally lasts 2-4 weeks. The Ehrlichia enter white blood cells and reproduce inside of them. In addition to the blood, these cells are found in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and bone marrow. Platelets, the small cell fragments that help blood to clot, are often destroyed, as well. As a result of the infection, the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen are often enlarged. Anemia, fever, depression, lethargy, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, joint pain and stiffness, and bruises are often seen. Many dogs will be able to fight off the infection. If not, they enter the subclinical phase.
In the subclinical phase the animal may appear normal or show only slight anemia. During this phase the Ehrlichia live inside the spleen. This phase can last for months or years. Ultimately, the dog either eliminates the Ehrlichia from the body or the infection may progress to the chronic phase.
The chronic phase can be either mild or severe. Weight loss, anemia, neurological signs, bleeding, inflammation of the eye, edema (fluid accumulation) in the hind legs, and fever may be seen. Blood tests show that one or all of the different blood cell types are decreased. One cell type, the lymphocyte may increase and be abnormal in appearance. This can sometimes be confused with certain types of leukemia. If a dog becomes chronically infected, the disease can keep coming back, especially during periods of stress. In some cases, arthritis or a kidney disease called 'glomerluonephritis' may develop.
A decrease in the number of platelets (platelets help the blood clot) in the blood is the most common laboratory finding in all phases of the disease. Changes in the protein levels in the blood are common. The most common protein, albumin, is decreased and other types of protein called 'globulins' are increased.
Since one tick could be infected with and transmit more than one disease (e.g.; haemobartonellosis or babesiosis), it is not all that uncommon to see a dog infected with more than one of these diseases at a time, which generally causes more severe symptoms.
Now I know that it looks pretty serious but we think that we caught it pretty early and have been treating him with a massive dose of antibiotics so hopefully he won't progress any farther. All I know is he was up and about with what seems like the closest thing to a smile a dog could have.
After the good news it was time to get to cleaning. I was amazed to walk through the shelter and actually see how many dogs we had ready for adoption. When I had written last we had just gotten in ten dogs from another county shelter and when I came in today there were about ten more in addition to those. Apparently there were a lot of owner relinquishment while I was off. I know we will find homes for these animals quickly but it is a very sad thing to know that so many animals are having to be given up for economic reasons.
After cleaning it was time to take care of all the necessary tasks from garbage, to dishes, and just a small of amount of laundry that was dirty since everything had pretty much been washed. Once everything was caught up the showings started rolling in. I unfortunately really didn't have any to do though since I first helped out the front desk which was a little short handed. I was amazed at how hectic it can get up there with people and how annoying they can be. Anyways, after a few minutes of that I was ready to get back to picking up poo.
I did get my first and only showing later in the day. It was actually with one of our own staff members. It went fine but there were a few concerns one being that the dog would left alone for eight hours or more a day. It's an issue that needs to be addressed and my total cop out was saying "everything looks good, the time alone might be an issue but management will still have to take a look and have the final say".
While I was busy with the daily do's there were showings left and right. I was happy to see some long term cats go home as well as a few dogs. In fact I was called over the radio to help grab a couple of cats that were going home. I got the kennels and said my goodbyes to the felines and while I was walking out here comes an 80 pound dog running around the corner with no one in sight chasing him. Luckily there was another staff member next to me who was able to handle the problem and sure enough here comes a volunteer strolling behind trying to untangle a leash with what seemed like not a care in the world. I know that volunteers are a huge part in this shelter and I truly appreciate all of them but you have to be aware that it is a danger to have the dog running loose and you need to make people aware rather than keeping it to yourself. I also think that you probably shouldn't wear flip flops with three inch soles either, just a thought.
Overall it was a great day today with so many animals being adopted and the health of my favorite little puppy looking on the up and up. As with any day there are those moments that you hold your breath and wait for the outcome but luckily they all turned out our way today. I want to thank everyone for reading and posting their comments and remember, there are so many ways you can help out these animals in your community from volunteering to donating.