Veterinarians say regular check-ups, deworming and vaccinations will help prevent illness
More cases of tick-borne diseases in dogs and cats are being witnessed in the city. The disease causes thrombocytopenia-reduced platelet count, one of the most common, yet serious platelet disorders. The condition also results in anaemia and treatments often need blood transfusion.
“A dog is diagnosed as thrombocytopenic when its platelet count is less than 50,000/cmm. Per day 10 to 15 cases are treated in the Madras Veterinary College (MVC) Hospital for this condition,” said S. Balasurbramanian, Director of Clinics, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS).
Ticks are a major cause of concern for the animals and pet parents as they are carriers of parasites like Babesia gibsoni and Ehrlichia canis that cause blood infection. One in four dogs in the country is prone to this infection. “Signs include hemorrhages on the skin, pale mucous membranes, nosebleed, blood in vomit, passage of fresh blood from anal region, blood in urine and blood in faeces,” explained M. Chandrasekar, professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, Madras Veterinary College (MVC), Vepery.
Some dogs will have a higher body temperature, loss of appetite and yellow mucous membrane, as in jaundice. The sickness results in multiple organ failure and death.
“Sometimes dogs do not even show any symptoms and thrombocytopenia may be detected only during a routine check-up,” said Dr. Chandrasekar.
It is not just ticks as mosquitoes and houseflies also carry the parasites. “Regular blood check-ups apart from tick control, deworming and vaccinations will help them assess the health status of the animal,” said S. Kavitha, professor and head, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, MVC.
She said other causes of thrombocytopenia include canine parvovirus, distemper virus, autoimmune diseases, hereditary diseases, vaccination reactions and drug therapy.
Diagnosis is made mainly on blood tests (platelet count and complete blood count). Serum biochemistry, urinalysis, radiography and ultrasonography help assess severity adds more to the picture. Treatment is based on the underlying cause of thrombocytopenia and ranges from use of specific drugs, antibiotics, corticosteroids and blood transfusions etc.
“When the platelet counts are too low, the dog may require a platelet transfusion. In case of anaemia, a whole blood transfusion may be required. In immune mediated thrombocytopenia where the immune response is the cause, corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs are used,” explained P. Selvaraj, professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, MVC.
Dr. Balasubramanian said the MVC had India’s most advanced veterinary transfusion medicine facilities and provides blood component therapies like packed RBC, platelets, fresh/frozen plasma, besides consultations on coagulation and bleeding disorders management.
“However, the easiest way is to implement effective tick control measures and regular health and blood check-ups, which will help in the prevention of thrombocytopenia,” he said.