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Tick Borne Disease.

Species: Dog
Breed: goldeb retriever
Age: 5-8 years
I took my dog to the vet on both Friday and Saturday. He has a fever. He has a thick, ropy saliva in his mouth. He is not eating much, and he is not drinking much at all. He did perk up after receiving IV fluids yesterday, but he has steadily weakened today. He is very lethargic and has trouble moving. He had a chest x-ray and also an ultrasound, which showed no abnormalities in his major organs. He had bloodwork done as well -- there was some elevation in his white blood cell count, but the vet stated it was due to stress from the test and not indicative of an underlying condition. In the past, he had lyme's disease. He tested positive for lyme in the vet's office this time, but he has received a lyme vaccination since he was a puppy. Right now, I am assuming he has a tick-borne disease. The vet prescribed him doxycycline, and is operating under the assumption that he has some tick-borne disease that is treatable. The vet tested him for tick-borne diseases, and the tests were positive. I am wondering if his symptoms, however, will abate -- or when they will begin abating. Last night I started administering doxycycline. What other illnesses might explain his condition, if it isn't a tick-borne disease that explains his symptoms (notwithstanding a positive test result for lyme and another tick-borne disease)?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi there John...it sounds like you and Bailey have been through a frustrating time! This is a tough one for me to answer but I'll tell you my thoughts on what you have written so far.

First of all, do you know which type of tick borne disease he was positive for? This can really change my answer. Some possible tick borne diseases include ehrlichiosis, rocky mountain spotted fever and again, lyme disease.

None of these would directly cause the ropy saliva...I am wondering if this is due to nausea. Do you know if your vet ran a PLI level? This is a test that is specific for pancreatitis. Pancreatitis does not always show up on regular bloodwork.

Another thought...has your vet done an aspirate of his lymph nodes? At this age, we worry sometimes about lymphoma which is a cancer that can affect the lymph nodes. It doesn't always show up on bloodwork. We sometimes see changes on xrays and ultrasound but sometimes in the early stages of the disease we don't.

Doxycycline is good for most tick borne disease. If we are dealing with a tick borne problem then it is hard to say when symptoms should abate but we should see a gradual increase in his condition from day to day. The fact that he has slipped back again a little has made me worried.

Let me know if you know the name of the tick diseases he is positive for and I'll give you some more information.

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.