Dog Covered With Ticks

Last summer, a woman found this dog wondering the streets of Phoenix.  Filthy matted hair covered his body and he smelled like garbage.    

When we removed his hair, a new problem emerged.  Ticks!  They covered his body.  It was the worst infestation I have ever seen.  We used a spray to kill the ticks and then removed them with slow steady traction.  As you may know, ticks carry a serious disease commonly referred to as “Tick Fever”.  What is the scientific name for the disease?  What are the clinical signs of this disease?  Scroll past the bowl of ticks to check your answer.

Diagnosis:  Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichia is the causative agent in tick fever.  The organism is transmitted from animal to animal by ticks.  Once in the body, Ehrlichia invades the white blood cells.  Clinical signs of the disease are non-specific in the early phase: lethargy, anorexia and sometimes, a shifting leg lameness.  As the disease progresses, the gums turn pale pink to white, blood may be observed in the urine or feces, bruises may occur on the body and the animal struggles for breath.  Luckily for this little stray, he tested negative for Ehrlichiosis.


After three hours of work, most of the mats and ticks were gone.  Even though it hurt a little when the ticks were removed, he never tried to bite.  He sat on the floor and wagged his tail whenever anyone spoke to him.  At this point in time, he needed a break.  We placed  him in a run before tackling his face.  He ate, drank and curled up on a clean blanket.  Later that day, he went home with the woman who found him.  It was a happy ending to this a sad beginning. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.