Babesiosis – a potentially fatal disease of dogs transmitted by ticks

A microscopic parasite, called Babesia canis, carried by a particular tick species can be spread to dogs when the tick feeds on their blood. 

Babesiosis was previously associated with travel outside the UK, but that is no longer the case. A tick species called Dermacentor reticulatus that can transmit Babesia is now resident in some parts of the UK and therefore the nation’s dogs are at risk.

Dogs that develop babesiosis develop severe anaemia and, sadly, this can be fatal. The signs that pet owners should look for include pale gums, lethargy or weakness, loss of appetite, fever, jaundice and red/ brown urine.

Not all dogs develop the same signs and of course, if you are worried about your dog’s health for any reason, it is important to consult your veterinary surgeon. Regular treatment for ticks will help protect your pet by killing ticks within 48 hours. Dead ticks are easily removed or drop off. It’s also a good idea to check your pet regularly and remove any ticks you do find – there is lots of information on how to do this on this site.