There has been recent news and internet reports regarding a new tick borne disease in Kent.
Babesiosis is not new and has been in continental Europe for years, however, up until now it has not reached the UK. The only UK dogs known to have had the disease are a few which had travelled to Europe on the PETS Passport Scheme.
Babesiosis is caused by a parasite called Babesia canis. This particular parasite infects red blood cells and triggers an immune reaction called Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia. Symptoms of the disease include fever, lethargy, weight loss, pale gums and loss of appetite. In some cases, it can be fatal.
Diagnosis is by analysing a blood sample. Treatment is available, however, affected dogs are extremely ill and many do not survive, even with treatment.
Babesia canis is spread by tick bites. The most common tick in the UK called Ixodes ricinus, does not carry the parasite. It is carried by a much less common tick called Dermacentor reticulatus. Ticks do not start transmitting infection to the dog until at least 24-48 hours after they bite and attach.
The good news is, that there are numerous veterinary prescribed products available which will either repel or kill the ticks rapidly. It is also prudent to check your dog regularly and remove any ticks with a proper ‘tick-hook’. Never pull the tick off as you will leave some of it behind!
Please contact us for any advice regarding treatments which repel or kill ticks or if you have any further questions.