Canine Ehrlichiosis Treatment with Doxycycline

Ehrlichiosis is a multi-phase disease that is transmitted to dogs by ticks. The condition is caused by a bacterial infection, and the antibiotic doxycycline is commonly used to treat this disease. Treatment is most effective when initiated during the acute phase of ehrlichiosis, which occurs for approximately 1 to 3 weeks following the initial symptoms of the disease. When the condition progresses beyond that stage, doxycycline is still effective at treating it, but the antibiotic regimen may need to be longer and the effects may not be as quick to take hold. Additionally, if the disease has progressed significantly, you may need to take other measures to treat the symptoms of ehrlichiosis as you work to eliminate the source with antibiotics.

Doxycycline Overview

Doxycycline is a human-formulated tetracycline drug. These medicines are antibiotics that target bacteria, reducing the ability of that bacteria to produce proteins necessary for cell growth and reproduction. Because doxycycline is not officially approved for use in treating canine infections, it is prescribed by veterinarians as an extra-label drug in certain cases. This medicine is not available over the counter and requires a veterinary visit and prescription.

Treating Ehrlichiosis with Doxycycline

If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with ehrlichiosis, he will likely recommend a treatment program involving doxycycline or a related antibiotic. The treatment regimen typically lasts up to a month. As with other antibiotics, it is crucial that you continue to administer the drug to your dog for the full duration of the prescription, even if his symptoms appear to improve in the interim. Dogs with the chronic form of the disease may not benefit from antibiotic treatment, and your vet will be able to provide alternative treatment options in these cases.

Doxycycline is available as a tablet, an oral medicine and as an injection. In the case of ehrlichiosis, most veterinarians prescribe the drug in tablet form. The exact dosage depends upon your pet's weight and the progression of the disease. Generally, administration of the drug takes place twice per day over a period of 3 to 4 weeks. Once you have begun the treatment process, it is critical that you continue to communicate with your vet so that he can monitor your dog's condition.

Side Effects of Doxycycline

Doxycycline has a number of potential side effects. In addition to the possibility of your dog experiencing an allergic reaction to the drug, it may also react with other medicines in his system to lead to negative effects. Other common side effects include diarrhea, vomiting and dental discoloration. If you notice any of these side effects or any other unusual symptoms developing in your dog while he is taking doxycycline, inform your vet immediately.

Ehrlichiosis is a serious condition that can prove to be fatal or have long-term effects on your dog's health if left untreated. If you discover a tick on your pet's body or if you suspect that he may be suffering from this disease for any other reason, take him to a veterinarian immediately and ask about the possibility of treating him with doxycycline.