Definition of Ehrlichiosis
Ehrlichiosis is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by bacteria that are transmitted to dogs in the saliva of certain ticks, including the brown dog tick, the hard-shelled Ixodes tick, the lone star tick and the black-legged tick. Immature ticks pick up the bacteria by feeding on infected animals; dogs get infected when they are bitten by infected adult ticks. Ehrlichiosis can cause a wide range of symptoms in dogs, which may include weakness, lethargy, fever, exercise intolerance, shifting lameness, breathing difficulties, blood clotting problems and marked weight loss. Some dogs show few if any signs, but others become gravely ill. In severe cases, the central nervous system is affected, causing lack of coordination, paralysis, pain and potentially death.