As a dog owner, it’s important to know all the facts about this disease, so you can get your dog treated as quickly as possible.
What is Babesiosis?
Also known as Babesia Canis, Babesiosis is a potentially fatal disease spread by ticks and has, for the first time, been reported in the UK. It can cause life-threatening anaemia, as the dog’s body tries to kill the parasite.
What are the symptoms of Babesiosis?
Dog owners should keep an eye out for weakness, lethargy, pale gums, red urine and fever – these are all signs that your dog may have contracted Babesiosis. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately.
Can Babesiosis be treated?
Yes, but many dogs die from anaemia before the treatment can be implemented. In very severe cases, your dog may receive a blood transfusion. As UK dogs haven’t been exposed to the disease before, they have no natural immunity. This means the disease can progress very rapidly.
How can I prevent my dog catching Babesiosis?
Unfortunately, there’s no foolproof way to avoid the infection as there is nothing available that actually 100% stops ticks from attaching in the first place. Dogs that are walked in wooded areas are most at risk, and owners should stay clear of any areas known to be infected.
The best way to avoid Babesiosis is to treat your dog regularly for fleas and ticks. The warm, wet winters we tend to have mean ticks are thriving, so it’s important to keep your dog’s flea and tick treatment up to date. Babesiosis can only be contracted 24 hours after the tick has attached itself – if the tick is removed before then, the disease won’t be transmitted.
If your dog is spending time in an area that is a known tick habitat, prevention is the best course of action. Check your dog daily for ticks and remove them promptly using a tick remover. It is still advisable to use a spot on that kills ticks, so that any you miss will fall off on their own. Fipronil based spot ons, such as Bob Martin Clear, Effipro and Frontline will kill any ticks your dog picks up within 24-48 hours, although Bravecto – a new oral treatment which you can get with a prescription – kills ticks within 24 hours (before the infection can be transmitted).
If you want more advice about Babesiosis, or suspect your dog may have contracted the disease, speak to your vet.