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Ehrlichia in Dogs: Nala, Sassy and Lilo’s Story

Posted 2020-11-06

Have you ever had the pleasure to meet a ChowChow? They look like big floofy teddy-bears and can be counted on to always be flashing big smiles. Check out our friends Nala, Lilo, and Sassy showing us how it’s done! These three pups have a story to tell about their experience contracting the infection called Ehrlichia.

We first met Nala, Lilo, and Sassy over a year ago when their mama reached out asking about Sassy’s itchy paws, frequent ear infections, and lack of appetite. We helped her mama figure out Sassy’s food allergies that caused itchiness and ear infections and later on witnessed the introduction of their youngest pup Nala.

Nala developed struvite crystals at the young age of 5 months old and started taking Tripsy to help support her urinary health and breakdown the urinary calculi in her system. Tripsy is a blend of multiple herbs that are anti-inflammatory and has tonic properties, which support urinary health. One of the herbs used in it is Gravel Root which is used to help reduce inflammation and bacterial infections that cause UTI. It also helps break down calculi in the bladder and kidney and gently eliminate crystals.

While Nala was struggling with her struvite crystals, Sassy was battling skin issues since November 2019. Her skin tests showed fungi and her skin became dryer in flakier despite the help of her medicated shampoo. Sassy began using Coco Furcare to help her hair in the skin’s dryness and to help clean and protect her beautiful coat.

Her skin conditions and itchiness persisted while she continued to have a bloody stool and a lack of appetite when she was feeling unwell. After numerous vet visits her mama discovered that Sassy had an infection called Ehrlichia Canis.

What is Ehrlichia?

Ehrlichia is a type of bacteria that infect and live within the white blood cells of their hosts. They are spread from host to host through bites from brown dog ticks. Antibiotics struggle to remove them as the bacteria lives within white blood cells. Untreated, an Ehrlichia infection in dogs can be fatal as they attack the white blood cells in the body which are essential to the immune system.

There are three phases of illness with Ehrlichiosis: acute, subclinical, and chronic.

Ehrlichia Symptoms

Once the host is bitten by the tick, the Ehrlichia organism starts replicating and attaching to the white blood cells in the ‘acute-phase‘. This causes the platelet count to drop which creates symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Respiratory distress
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding disorders (spontaneous hemorrhage or bleeding)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Enlarged lymph nodes and/or spleens.
  • Sometimes neurological issues

This stage may last two to four weeks and some dogs may eliminate the infection or head into the ‘sub-clinical phase’. The pet will appear ill, but this stage is non-life-threatening. If treated, the pet will pass the infection and go back to normal.

Without adequate treatment or after 4 weeks without treatment, the Ehrlichia go into a ‘subclinical phase‘ where the bacteria will hide in the spleen for months or even years. There are usually no symptoms of Ehrlichia during this phase but signs of the bacteria will appear in a reduced platelet count and/or an elevated globulin level on a blood test.

Without treatment, the condition goes from the ‘subclinical phase’ into the ‘chronic phase‘. During this phase, the pet gets sick again and will experience these symptoms:

  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Inflammation in the eyes
  • Weakened immune system

If the infection worsens it can be fatal as the cells become deficient. Luckily, the treatment is similar to many other infection treatments and includes simply taking antibiotics for 6-8 weeks.

Getting Rid of Ehrlichia & How NHV Helped

Once Sassy contracted the infection, their mama tested Nala and Lilo and discovered that they also had Ehrlichia but it was less severe than Sassy’s case.

Lilo and Nala are both positive for Ehrlichia too.. scale 2! But no symptoms of sickness because they have a stronger immune system. Platelet count is also normal which is a good indication that it’s not physically affecting them. Either we caught it early or they have a really good immune system. All thanks to the fresh food diet and their supplements!

Alongside the antibiotic treatment, Sassy, Lilo, and Nala were taking Milk Thistle and Stimmune.

Milk Thistle helps to remove chemicals and toxins that can accumulate in a pet’s system. It supports and detoxifies the liver and kidneys, and can help repair damage to the liver from the infection.

Stimmune helps soothe symptoms of food allergies, skin allergies (dermatitis), and infections. It also helps relieve a variety of symptoms related to allergies and supports a healthy balance of the immune system in pets with conditions such as autoimmune disease. 

Together, the two supplements help strengthen these pups’ immune systems so they can get back to being themselves again. After a few weeks on this regimen alongside the antibiotics, we received this happy news from their mama:

All the 3 babies are now Ehrlichia free!🥰 thanks so much for your help. I’ll have them on Milk Thistle for a few weeks more, and Stimmune to boost their immune system. They are all eating well and very active like nothing happened.❤️

We are so happy to hear that these beautiful babies are back to normal and feeling good again! It’s such a relief to see Sassy, Nala, and Lilo all doing so well after dealing with various issues. Their story is not uncommon as Sassy was showing mild symptoms of her infection when we first met her. She was lucky her mama was so persistent, supportive, and caring. Her mama pushed to help her furbaby until they found out what was causing her lack of appetite, weight loss, skin issues, and bleeding. Way to go Mama!

We can’t get enough of their happy faces and are sending them so much love.

If you ever have any questions about your pet’s health please remember we’re always here for you!

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