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Chronicles of a pet parent: coping with tick fever

Stuffing our faces full of a good meal and then lounging around on the couch watching TV. This is an ideal Sunday afternoon in our household. So keeping this tradition alive is what we were doing when my younger boy suddenly gets up and starts wheezing. He sneezes a couple of times and the white wall in front of him is sprayed with blood. My husband and I exchange horrified looks. We follow my younger boy, Mac and find him snuggled next to his elder brother Doggie. Copious amount of blood dripping from his nose, he is doing what he does best, playing with his brother.

A quick call to their vet and we are told to keep Mac as calm and as still as possible, until we can get a blood test done then next day to figure out what might be wrong. He is an extremely active young dog and has been running around and jumping as usual so the thought that he might actually be seriously ill never crosses my mind. Being a fussy eater, he skips a meal from time to time but that’s never really been a cause for worry. I’m thinking he has probable cut himself somewhere around his nose after playing around downstairs in the garden.

At the vet’s clinic the next morning, I am asked if he has had seizures. I’m perplexed. What a strange question to ask. I’m asked if his temperature has spiked or dropped. I say it’s totally normal. They take Mac’s blood and I’m waiting for the results. All this time I’m really not worried based on the fact that his temperature and all his other habits are normal. Ok his poop is dark but that happens from time to time.

The vet runs myriad tests along with the usual CBC blood test to pinpoint the problem. Result: his platelet count is 18,000 when it should be 200,000 (minimum) and he has tested positive for tick fever. A series of questions ensue.. the first of them being.. “But he doesn’t even have fever”!!!!

Basically now I know that Mac is very very ill. So ill that in fact if his white blood cell count was not within the normal range (Thank Dog it is!!!), that along with the low platelets could have easily caused seizures. The capable vet makes me understand how serious his condition is. We are given an endless list of medication and asked to come back in two days for another blood test.

And thus begin an excruciating three weeks. No dog likes medication shoved down their throat. After the endless struggle of hiding the pills in cheese and chicken and butter and treats, he would always find a way to spit them out. My days would begin with chasing my boys down to give them their meds. Doggie was also put on the same medication. Just as a preventative measure. My afternoons would consist of trying to make Mac eat. Something… anything…dahi, khichadi, chicken, eggs, mutton, broth, dry dog food, wet dog food…. basically anything he would eat. Mac’s eating habits in those weeks can be compared to that of a sparrow. More specifically a sparrow on a diet.

Worry, frustration and anger were my constant companions. A fussy eater to begin with, he refused to eat anything nutritious. All he wanted was Parle g biscuits and treats. After three days (I thank Dog here once again) his nosebleeds stopped. Endless hours of research on the internet, speaking to friends, speaking to trainers and behaviourists made no difference. He just refused to eat a proper meal. I think I must have driven the vet completely insane as well. Being a patient man, he addressed all my issues.

I don’t know how these few weeks have gone by. It’s been a blur of tears, first at his refusal to eat and then some more when he did eat. 18 days, 8 vet visits, countless bottles of medication, four blood tests and a very frazzled me later….. all his parameters are normal. He is still being fussy about food but is eating decent sized portions twice a day.

I feel like a monkey sometimes. Sitting over both my boys, picking through their coat, looking for ticks. That one tiny tick definitely made a monkey out of me.

Like I said, there is no real tell-tale sign for tick fever, however to get a better understanding on preventive measures and diagnosis, please read our previous article “Tick Fever? Is your pet infected” in the health and wellness section (

By Crazy Dog Lady

mother to two crazy labrador boys….writer, entrepreneur and nuts about all things dogs.

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