Treating Canine Ehrlichiosis with Imidocarb (Imizol)

Imidocarb is a drug sold under the brand name Imizol and is used to treat canine ehrlichiosis. Canine ehrlichiosis is a fatal disease carried by the brown dog tick, and this disease presents itself in stages. The first stage is called the acute stage, and this is when treatment is strongly recommended. Onset of acute is one to three weeks after infection and lasts about as long. Once this stage has passed, the disease will move into the subclinical stage. Subclinical produces no outward signs, but may last for up to five years.

Quite possibly, the immune system will eliminate the infection during this time. If the immune system cannot dismiss the infection, the final stage of chronic ehrlichiosis is reached. In the chronic stage, neurological disorders, lameness, kidney disease and blood disorders can lead to fatality.

Uses of Imidocarb

Imidocarb is used to treat babesiosis and a strain of canine ehrlichiosis called E. canis, both of which are types of parasitic infections. This is an anti-protozoal agent administered by injection either subcutaneously, meaning under the skin, or intramuscularly. It is usually given in the form of two shots, two weeks apart. This drug should not be given intravenously, and it should be noted that it can cause burns to the skin.

Care should be taken during administration of this drug to make sure to keep the injection site and needle free from residue of this medication. Imidocarb can be given instead of tetracycline or in conjunction with doxycycline. Tick-borne diseases have a tendency to cause cross-infection and this drug may be capable of fighting both canine ehrlichiosis and babesiosis simultaneously. Studies have shown, however, that imidocarb should only be given as a secondary alternative to tetracycline or doxycycline. Thorough studies have not been conducted to prove that this drug is 100% effective against fighting ehrlichiosis, especially strains other than that of E. canis.

Cautions to Consider When Using Imidocarb

Imidocarb has not been thoroughly tested for side effects on puppies or pregnant or lactating female dogs, and therefore should be avoided in these cases. There are significant risks associated with administration to dogs with pre-existing kidney, liver or lung conditions, and alternate forms of treatment should be considered. Overdose of this drug may cause a severe toxic reaction. Signs of toxicity include lung, liver and intestinal problems. Toxicity may also invoke weakness, lethargy, vomiting and rapid weight loss.

Side Effects of Imidocarb

Side effects are common with the use of this drug. Mild pain may be experienced during injection, and the injection site may produce swelling and abscess or ulceration for several days after administration. Brief periods of vomiting, excessive salivation and a runny nose may persist. Less frequently, dogs may experience inflammation of the injection site for up to a week. Excessive panting, restlessness and diarrhea may also occur. Studies have shown, in rare cases, that the use of imidocarb may contribute to or even initiate damage to the lungs, liver or kidneys.