Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy

or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.

PetMD Seal

Hepatozoonosis (Tick-Borne Disease) in Dogs


Tick-Borne Disease in Dogs


Hepatozoonosis is a tick-borne disease that results in infection with the protozoan (one-celled organism) known as Hepatozoon americanum.


Symptoms and Types


The disease is more common in the southern and southeastern United States. Infection is often subclinical. However, symptoms of clinical infection include:


  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Hyperesthesia (heightened sensitivity of the skin and musculature) over the back and sides
  • Muscle wasting
  • Proliferation of the outer layer (periosteum) of bones, causing pain
  • Kidney failure


Hepatozoonosis may affect the bones, liver, spleen, muscles, small blood vessels in the heart muscle, and the intestinal tract.




Hepatozoonosis is carried by the tick Amblyomma maculatum. Dogs become infected through being bitten by an infected tick or through ingestion of an infected tick.




Definitive diagnosis is made by finding the Hepatozoon organisms in white blood cells on a blood smear. However, routine blood testing consisting of a complete blood cell count and blood chemistry profile is typically performed in addition to the blood smear to check for additional organ dysfunction or abnormalities.


Radiographs (X-rays) to examine the bones of the pelvis, vertebrae, and legs may be recommended as well.