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My dog had been apparently nauseous and has a swollen belly that hurts a bit - not much though, some dipyrone makes him feel fine.

My vet says he has erlichiosis, that's why he's "nauseous" and the belly is swollen because of an enlarged spleen, a common symptom of erlichiosis. I want to know if this is true, because I didn't find any info, either informal or any research papers backing up this claim, and I'm each time more suspicious she makes a living out of lying to her customers.

That because a friend of mine had a dog that actually developed erlichiosis, going through all 3 stages of erlichiosis (STAGE 1: severe respiratory issues / bleeding - 2: got "healthy" - 3: got weird, as if rabid, couldn't walk, then died).

Now, a week later and my dog lies down all day long, looks tired and doesn't eat. Open, raw wounds spontaneously show up in his body too. I called her, she said those were erlichiosis symptoms, that she'd take a blood sample of him. I found it strange, because the other dog and mine had not a single matching symptom. Anyways, we made the exams.

Reportedly, the dog had a low white blood cell count and anemia and erlichiosis. She prescribe him doxycycline for 22 days and a food supplement rich in iron. I gave the him the supplement for 3 days and he got livid again. He even got fat. I suspected he just had anemia, but gave him the doxycycline anyway.

Now, less than 2 months later, my dog got kennel cough and the belly thing I mentioned above. I called her, she didn't say a single word about kennel cough and told me he was "nauseous" due to erlichiosis. I paid her for the exams, reportedly they confirmed erlichiosis, yet she didn't send me any of the exams, despite my requesting them 3 times already. She prescribed doxycycline again, but I'm wary of giving it to my dog, as I found out she lied to me on the nausea thing.

This because my dog didn't eat anything strange for him to have an upset belly for 4 days. He apparently was vomiting a white ooze in the first 2 days, but then I found out that when he eats, he doesn't vomit. I googled the symptoms and 'kennel cough' came up. There are some vets showing videos of dogs who got it, mine coughes exactly like those. I opened his mouth and looked right into his throat, and saw some thick white mucus trapped there in his throat, confirming he has some respiratory thing, rather than nausea, which was not making sense anyway, as he just ate regular, good quality dog food in the last weeks.

Anyways, I want someome more knowledgeable to tell me something about the enlarged spleen claims. My dog definitely has something going on in his belly, but this woman clearly has not diagnosed my dog properly, and there are no other vets in this small town, so I'm at her mercy...

[EDIT]

An update for anyone who might be interested. Turns out it was indeed erlichiosis.

The vet later sent me the exams, she said she doesn't send the exams before she explains what is going on, and apologised because she had been attending 2 clinics and didn't have time to explain me anything.

Now I'm treating the dog with doxycycline, and he was indeed really bad, not eating and coughing a lot (due to pneumonia). Medication was prescribed to give him a bit more comfort and stimulate his hunger, he's still a bit tired, but looks way much better, unlike before, when he looked like he'd certainly die.

Also, I talked to another vet, he confirmed erlichiosis can cause an enlarged spleen, but fortunately, 2 days into the antibiotic treatment with the aforementioned drug and he is not feeling anything in his belly anymore.

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  • In general antibiotics can cause vomiting in pets, same as in humans. In humans the doctor would try another antibiotic instead, to decrease the side effects. Feb 17 at 11:59
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    If you want, you could add this edited-in update as an answer to this question, so we could reward you with reputation by voting for the answer.
    – lila
    Feb 19 at 20:01
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The German Wikipedia about Canine Ehrlicherosis states, that spleen-enlargement is one of multiple unspecific and various symptoms (marked in bold). They associate this with the third phase of infection. (At the associated Wikipedia page in English language I could not find something about the spleen).

Nach der symptomfreien Phase beginnt das chronische Stadium mit Blutungen und Ödemen, Abgeschlagenheit, Abmagerung, Blutarmut (Anämie), Milzvergrößerung (Splenomegalie), Gelenkerkrankungen (Polyarthritis) sowie Meningoenzephalitis mit Krämpfen und Paralysen. Das klassische Bild mit stark erhöhter Blutungsneigung tritt jedoch nur etwa in einem Viertel der Fälle auf.

Translated by software:

After the symptom-free phase, the chronic stage begins with bleeding and edema, fatigue, emaciation, anemia, enlarged spleen (splenomegaly), joint diseases (polyarthritis) and meningoencephalitis with cramps and paralysis. However, the classic picture with a strongly increased tendency to bleed occurs in only about a quarter of the cases.

The linked page does also state that the diagnosis can only be confirmed by laboratory. With just a visit at the vet only, it is not possible to exclude other infections. Therefore a sample needs to be analyzed in a laboratory.

The article guesses a treatment with antibiotics like "Doxycyclin, Tetracyclin und Oxytetracyclin" over the period of two weeks. And animals which were tested positive should be separated.

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