Tick bite disease warning issued to dog owners following fatality

A new warning has been issued to dog owners after one dog died and several others became seriously ill in Essex and Kent having contracted a disease carried by the tick.

Babesiosis Canis is a parasite that invades the red blood cells of its host after entering the bloodstream via a tick bite. The symptoms of the disease include weakness, lethargy, pale gums, lack of appetite, coloured urine and fever. In the process of trying to fight the parasite, the dog’s immune system will destroy its own blood cells, causing severe anaemia and even death.

While the parasite is most commonly transmitted by a tick, it can take 24 hours from the initial bite before it is passed into the animal’s bloodstream.  It is not contagious between dogs directly except where blood has been transferred through a dog bite. The parasite can incubate for weeks or even months so be on the lookout for any changes in your dog’s health or behaviour and contact us if you have any concerns. While the disease can be managed and clinical signs eliminated, once infected, the dog is forever considered a carrier.

The only solution is to kill the ticks quickly. There are products that will do this and also act as a tick repellant. Not all products are effective enough to kill ticks fast so check with us before choosing a product.

Ticks can transmit a number of serious potentially fatal diseases especially in dogs, so it makes sense to use a product that protects against ticks as part of your pet’s preventative healthcare. These diseases include  ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, borreliosis, rickettsial infections, and several viral diseases, although their prevalence varies from country to country.

In addition to these issues:

  • Severe skin reactions may occur around the site of a tick bite in sensitive animals.
  • Very occasionally, where there are large numbers of ticks attached to a small dog or cat, blood loss may be severe enough to cause anaemia.

There are several safe and effective treatments that kill ticks attached to dogs within 24-48 hours. These include sprays, collars or spot-on products containing synthetic pyrethroids (e.g. permethrin), fipronil, pyriprole and amitraz. Many of these products work very well for up to 28 days and may also decrease the chance of ticks attaching to dogs as they contain a repellent.

Ticks that are well-attached when treatment is started may still be attached 24-48 hours later even though they are dead. They should be removed carefully using tweezers or a purpose-made tick remover with which to hold the body before twisting and lifting. This prevents head parts being left under the skin that could cause an infection.

The disease hasn’t been seen in the UK before and an outbreak of Babesiosis Canis across the country is now feared as experts say that it will be impossible to stop it spreading.

Are you are concerned about your dog?
Contact us immediately online or call us on 01704 872 924