You may have been made aware by recent reports in the press about a new disease that has been seen in our dog population this year called Babesiosis.
It is a disease carried by ticks and was traditionally seen in Africa and southern Europe, but with the advent of global warming and the movement of dogs across the Channel it has been brought to these shores and 4 cases have been diagnosed in Essex. The experts believe that now it has arrived here it will spread within the tick population and become indigenous to this country and thus will become a real danger to our dog population.
Babesiosis itself is caused by a microscopic parasite that is injected into the bloodstream when a tick bites the dog .It then invades the red blood cells and destroys them causing an anaemia which can prove fatal.It can also infect the nervous system and cause fits and other neurological symptoms.
Diagnosis can be achieved by examining blood smears , but even if a diagnosis is made the drugs used for treatment are not always effective and can have severe side effects. It is also possible that
even if the dog gets better initially relapses of the disease can occur.
Prevention is the best course of action and as we will never eradicate the tick then treatments must be aimed at stopping the tick biting the dog.
Transmission of the parasite will take a few hours after the tick has latched onto your dog so a treatment that will kill the tick quickly is vital.
Spot on products have been available for treatment of ticks for many years but in my personal experience they are becoming much less effective and have the disadvantage of taking a while to kill the tick allowing more likely transmission of the Babesia parasite.
A new generation of oral products are now available that I have found much more effective at controlling tick infectations that kill the tick very quickly and also do not wash off the fur as spot on products do.
In addition to Babesiosis , Lyme’s disease can be transmitted by ticks and this infection can also be life threatening.
The warm, wet climate here in the Southwest is ideal for tick populations so it is important to check that your dog is well protected against ticks