When you live in Pennsylvania, you are probably familiar with Lyme Disease, a common disease that is transmitted by ticks. However, there is a less familiar disease that can be transmitted to our pets. That disease is Anaplasma.


This means that certain types of ticks can infect our pets with the disease if infected. There are two types of Anaplasma: Anaplasma Phagocytophilum and Anaplasma Platys. A. Phagocytophilum is carried by the deer tick and the western black legged tick,which are the same ticks that carry Lyme Disease. This form of Anaplasma affects the white blood cells, causing loss of appetite, lethargy, lameness, neck pain and possible neurological symptoms. A. platys is carried by the brown dog tick. This form decreases the platelets, which are the cells that clot blood. Symptoms of this form of Anaplasma are nose bleeds and bruising. It can take 1-2 weeks to see symptoms after getting bitten by an infected tick, but some dogs and cats can be infected without showing any signs of illness.

Anaplasma is extremely common in the northeastern United States, and Pennsylvania’s tick population is out of control. In 2016 the Companion Animal Parasite Council named PA as one of the few states where tick borne diseases, especially Anaplasma and Lyme disease, are rising significantly.

Diagnosis is made by a blood test that is run in our office and takes about 10 minutes. This test detects antibodies to the Anaplasma organism that have been made by your dog’s immune system. A positive test indicates that your dog has been exposed to Anaplasma; it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an active infection. Your veterinarian will determine if the infection is active and if treatment is needed. It is highly recommended to test yearly; the test also screens for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and another tick borne disease called Ehrlichia. Since Anaplasma and Lyme can be carried by the same tick, it is possible to have been exposed to both diseases. Diagnosis is more difficult in cats. There are more sensitive tests that can be done at an outside lab.

If your dog or cat does become infected with Anaplasma, there is good news. The disease is treatable if caught early. Symptoms usually resolve within 48 hours after treatment begins. The treatment is a 30 day course of an antibiotic called Doxycycline.

Since you now know the causes and treatment of Anaplasma, the next question is how can you prevent your pet from contracting the disease. Keeping your pet on year-round tick prevention is the best way to protect your pet. There are many different preventives available. At the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County, we recommend the following:

Bravecto – a chewable tablet for dogs that kills fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks. The medication in Bravecto is stored in your dog’s tissue right under the skin. When a flea or tick bites your dog, it ingests the medication and dies. This medication can be used in dogs 6 months of age and older.

Frontline Plus – a monthly topical treatment for dogs and cats. This medication is applied to your pet’s skin near the base of the neck. The medication is stored in the oil glands for 30 days and self-distributes to the hair and skin through the hair follicles. Fleas and ticks that come in contact with the hair and skin die – no biting is necessary.

Nexgard – a chewable tablet for dogs that kills fleas and ticks for up to 30 days. This medication works like Bravecto but is safe for puppies as young as 8 weeks.

Vectra 3D – a monthly topical treatment for dogs. This medication kills fleas and ticks through contact with the skin – no biting is necessary.

Checking your pets for ticks is a very important step to remember as well. Check for ticks between toes, under collars, behind ears, and in the armpit area. Check the body by running your hands through your pet’s coat, feeling for bumps. If you find an attached tick, you can remove it by grasping it close to the skin and pulling straight out. There are also “tick twisters,” which are handy tools to remove ticks. Submerge the tick in alcohol or flush it down the toilet.

Ask your veterinarian about keeping your pets safe from these serious diseases.


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Meet Our Team

  • Dr. Bob  Sarsfield Photo
    Dr. Bob Sarsfield
    Veterinarian in Harrisburg, PA The chief medical officer and owner and has been with the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County since 1979. He started out working in the kennel and then attended Penn State University, which he graduated from in 1985. He received his DVM from Purdue University in 1989. His professional areas of interest include feline and canine medicine and surgery, ultrasound, and low level laser therapy. Contact the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County today and make an appointment ...
  • Dr. Heather  Balmer Photo
    Dr. Heather Balmer
    Dr. Heather Balmer (Zanes) is lead exotics veterinarian and has been with the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County since 1999. Dr. Balmer first worked as a kennel assistant and then as a veterinary technician assistant. She received her undergraduate degree from Juniata College and her VMD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. Dr. Balmer was raised in Penbrook but currently lives with her husband, Matt, and grandmother in Hummelstown along with their four-legged ...
  • Dr. Kelly  Allen Photo
    Dr. Kelly Allen
    Dr. Kelly Allen joined the staff of the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in 2011. She is a graduate of Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA. She enjoys talking to clients about their furry family members. Dr. Allen has a keen interest in animal behavior and enjoys helping new dog and cat owners as they experience the joy (and sometimes frustrations) of introducing an animal into the family. She lives with her husband, Todd, son, ...
  • Dr. Jennifer  Fletcher Eckenrode Photo
    Dr. Jennifer Fletcher Eckenrode
    Dr. Jennifer Fletcher Eckenrode, CCRT joined the staff of the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in 2011. She attended Colorado State University where she earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Originally from Boston, Dr. Fletcher grew up in Michigan. She has lived in California, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, and even Perth, Australia. She lives in Mechanicsburg with her husband (also a veterinarian!) and daughter, their Heeler-Lab mix, Colbie, ...
  • Dr. Audrey  Zajac Photo
    Dr. Audrey Zajac
    Dr. Audrey Zajac joined the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in July, 2013. Dr. Zajac enjoys house calls and is currently our only vet who performs them twice weekly. She became interested in animals at a young age, spending her summers working on her grandparents’ dairy farm and riding horses at 12 years old. Dr. Zajac attended King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and headed off to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Auburn, ...
  • Dr. Whitney  Wolfgang Photo
    Dr. Whitney Wolfgang
    Dr. Whitney Wolfgang joined the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in June 2016. Growing up in Hummelstown, PA, Dr. Wolfgang always knew she wanted to work with animals in some capacity. Early in her college career, she fell in love with veterinary medicine. She graduated from Towson University in Maryland with a dual degree in Biology and Animal Behavior. She traveled to South Africa for a veterinary experience with local community outreach and wildlife veterinary medicine. Dr. Wolfgang earned ...
  • Dr. Jamie  Putt Photo
    Dr. Jamie Putt
    Dr. Jamie Putt is a native of Harrisburg, PA. She obtained her B.S. in Animal Bioscience from Pennsylvania State University in 2001. She attended veterinary school at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and obtained her D.V.M. in 2005. Dr. Putt is a current active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Foundation for Veterinary Dentistry, the mission of which is to educate the public about the importance of oral health in animals. Her special ...
  • Dr. Jennifer  Starvetsky Photo
    Dr. Jennifer Starvetsky
    Dr. Jennifer Starvetsky joined the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County in August, 2020. A transplant from Georgia, Dr. Starvetsky attended Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine in Tennessee. Previously, while working toward her BS at Georgia Southwestern University, she has worked in most positions in a veterinary hospital as well as volunteering at the local zoo near her undergrad. She enjoys working with dogs, cats, and exotic pets (including reptiles and birds) as a general ...
  • Dr. Coby  Rudakewiz Photo
    Dr. Coby Rudakewiz
    Dr. Rudakewiz is an associate veterinarian and has been with the Animal hospital of Dauphin County since 2020. Dr. Rudakewiz started working in the veterinary field as veterinary assistant before starting school. She received her undergraduate degrees from Gettysburg College and her DVM from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2019. Dr. Rudakewiz grew up in Hershey, PA and wanted to return to area to continue her career in veterinary medicine. In her free time, Dr. Rudakewiz enjoys ...
  • D F
    Dr. Melissa Fisher
    Dr. Fisher grew up in northern New Jersey with many cats, hamsters, birds and her dog Tre, spending most of her time outdoors. After graduating Delaware Valley University in 2016 with a degree in Small Animal Pre-Veterinary Medicine she spent 2 years as a veterinary technician and supervisor in New Jersey while pet sitting/walking part time. In her spare time, Dr. Fisher played rugby for the Doylestown Dragons before heading to vet school. After graduating from Ross University of Veterinary ...