Paku, a beautiful chocolate labrador came because his owners noticed that his eyelids were droopy and his urine appeared orange in colour. Paku also got tired easily and had poor appetite. Paku’s clinical signs are not specific; routine physical examination revealed more findings. Paku’s mucous membranes were paler than normal, his skin was jaundiced and his spleen was enlarged. He was running a high temperature of 40.2o C.
All these findings lead us to suspect that Paku might be suffering from tick fever. Ticks are vectors for other parasites such as Ehrlichia canis and Babesia gibsoni which are enzootic in Singapore. When infected with Ehrlichia canis, your dog may display signs of fever, anorexia, lethargy, bleeding tendencies and pale gums. Signs of Babesiosis may include fever, pale gums, jaundice and darkly coloured urine.
Paku was tested positive for Ehrlichia canis and negative for Babesia. Paku’s haematocrit (percentage of red blood cells) was 24.2%. The normal range is 37 – 55%. This confirmed Paku’s anaemia. Thankfully, it was not low enough to warrant transfusion. Paku was given 1 month of medications to combat his Ehrlichia infection. Paku had 2 weekly rechecks. After 1 month, he was no longer jaundiced. His haematocrit was up to 30.3%. Paku was back to being a bouncy, active lab!
Ticks are NOT your pet’s best friend. In our practice. we have seen many owners who accept that all dogs have ticks! This is akin to saying that all humans have lice. Ticks can be found in the environment e.g. parks, places where animals congregate, or even your own home if they have been brought home. Please remember to apply tick preventatives regularly and search for ticks whenever you have just brought your dog back from a walk. If your home is already infested, please contact your pest control experts!