Canine Babesiosis

SENT UNDER EMBARGOED FOR FIRST USE 16 MARCH 2016 00.01One of the ticks that have been infecting dogs in the Harlow area. See SWNS story SWTICK; Scientists are warning of the spread of the fatal dog tick disease babesiosis after 3 out of 4 infected canines died in an outbreak in Essex. The parasite, which affects thousands of dogs every year in France is extremely rare in the UK but now a massive survey of the bugs by wildlife expert Chris Packham has revealed for the first time that British dogs are in danger from the killer parasite. Presence of Babesia canis in UK raises need for surveillance says Big Tick Project leader Professor Richard Wall ? University of Bristol is currently analysing 1000s of ticks collected by veterinary practices as part of MSD Animal Health’s Big Tick Project ? Big Tick Project study is mapping tick hotspots to identify disease risks. It is hoped that the results of the study will powerfully highlight the challenge that an increasing distribution and prevalence of ticks brings to human and animal health


There have been recent reports in the media about a parasitic disease called Babesiois being found for the first time in the United Kingdom. This disease has been present in Europe for many years and where it is spread and carried by ticks. However, recent studies have found ticks in the UK that are carrying the disease and some dogs living in Essex have caught the disease. Unfortunately, one dog has died and several have been taken seriously ill.

What are the symptoms of Babesia Canis?

Symptoms of babesiosis can range from mild to severe and include lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, anaemia, pale gums, an enlarged abdomen, weight loss and jaundice. If your dog has or had ticks and you are concerned for the health of your dog, please contact the surgery immediately.


Detecting ticks

Check your pets’s skin on its head first (around the mouth and ears, behind ears and on its neck), then work your way down its forelegs and the rest of its body, searching for any lumps on the skin surface.


If you find a lump:

  • Part the hair and look at it more closely (with the help of a magnifying glass, if necessary)


  • The place where the tick attaches may or may not be painful and there may be skin swelling – It is distinguished from other skin swellings and growths because close scrutiny can reveal the tick’s legs at the level of the skin.


What to do if you find a tick

When attempting to remove a tick avoid handling the parasite directly. Wear gloves and dispose of ticks hygienically so they cannot re-attach themselves or lay eggs.

If you find a tick on your pet’s skin:

  • The aim is to remove the whole tick, including the head without squeezing the tick’s body
  • Use a specially designed hook with a narrow slot that traps the tick’s head
  • Slide the hook under the tick at skin level so as to grip the head of the tick, ensure that the hook is not entangled
  • Rotate the hook and pull away from the skin ensuring that the head has been removed.
  • Flush the tick down the toilet (or sink – with hot water)

Do not attempt to burn, cut or pull the tick off with your fingers

How to protect your dog from ticks and tick borne diseases

There are many products available, most of which will kill ticks once they have latched on to skin. However, we would recommend using products that try to prevent ticks attaching, killing them as soon as possible. The two products we would recommend, therefore, are Seresto Collars and Vectra 3D Spot On.

If you are unsure which treatment to use or wish to discuss your pet’s individual requirements then please feel free to ask advice from one of the vets or nurses at the surgery.