Babesiosis in Dogs- Everything you need to know

Your furry friend is an important part of your life, and you need to ensure you take proper care of it to avoid any condition. Dogs are very much prone to several diseases if they aren't taken care of properly. Properly hygiene needs to be maintained for dogs to ensure proper working.

Furry dogs are prone to ticks, especially in warm weather. If these ticks infest the body of your dog, it may cause tick fever which may even escalate to babesiosis. These ticks are usually transmitted to dogs from either dogs or other species.

Babesiosis is a serious condition and the severity of the illness varies depending on the response of the dog. Babesia infection may either cause anaemia because the red blood cells are damaged. Nonetheless, at the same time, Babesia infection can also escalate to other serious conditions.

What is Babesia? 

Babesia is a type of protozoan parasite attacking the red blood cells. Unrecognised eventually escalates to babesiosis. Different strains of Babesia affect different strains of animals and a few of them are widely known for affecting dogs. Babesia may either cause minor harm to major harm based on the strain that causes them.

Details about babesiosis

The incubation period of babesiosis is usually two weeks. Hence, it is not possible to notice any symptoms regarding this problem before two weeks. Nonetheless, in many cases, the symptoms may get unrecognized and may appear after a year. Dogs are affected by babesiosis irrespective of their age, breed, and sex.

Tick exposure is one of the main reasons why babesiosis affects the body. Nonetheless, the environment also plays an important role in determining whether or not the dog is affected by babesiosis. Babesiosis not only affects humans but cattle as well. Babesiosis is known by different names such as Texas cattle fever, piroplasmosis and redwater.

Signs and symptoms of babesiosis

Infected by babesiosis, dogs can suffer severely. In some cases, babesiosis may have a mild impact while in some the impact can be heavy. Also, the impact of infection depends on the strain that the immune system of the dog. The Babesia strains from the US usually show mild impact. While you may notice symptoms in some cases, it may not be visible.

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Some of the prominent symptoms of babesiosis include the following

  • Red and orange urine
  • Pale gums and tongue
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Jaundice
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Yellow stool-colour

In some severe cases, babesiosis can even lead to multiple organ failure damaging lungs, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and nervous system. Dogs affected by serious symptoms of babesiosis eventually undergo a state of shock and collapse.

Causes of babesiosis

As mentioned above, seasonal changes and ticks are the main reason for babesiosis. Ticks usually spread in the warmer season and become huge in numbers. Apart from that, depending on the Babesia strain, babesiosis may even be transmitted due to blood transfusion from dog to dog or through biting. The wounds are one of the main sources of transmission.

Babesiosis is also transmitted from mother to baby pup during birth. Dogs affected by babesiosis at a young age tend to suffer more from serious disorders. Pitbull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, and Greyhounds are commonly prone to babesiosis.

Babesiosis diagnosis

Babesiosis diagnosis has always been complicated for dogs because blood tests often show a decrease in blood count. Blood count decrease has never been specific for address is babesiosis in dogs. However, to determine the presence of Babesia organism, the blood smears are examined. If the organisms are present in blood smears, the test is positive. Nonetheless, the only drawback is that in certain cases, the organisms may not show up in the blood smears.

One of the most common ways to find the presence of the parasite in dogs is by taking blood from the tip of the ear or toenail. Blood test for babesiosis or antibodies can sometimes produce negative and misleading results. Usually, a genetic material tests may be taken into consideration but this is a very sensitive test and not performed accurately. One of the best ways to determine whether or not the dog is affected by Babesiosis is to check the medical history and lab tests. If the dog is infected by Babesiosis, there is a high chance of them being affected by other problems caused by ticks too such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever or Ehrlichia.

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Treatment

Most of the medicines used for treating babesiosis have shown a positive response. Although your dog may recover, they may still be prone to infection because of the persistent nature. Based on the severity of infection, the dog may be given several anti-infective agents.

The drugs prescribed for treating babesiosis is usually given in two doses at a span of 14 days. Pentamidine isethionate is a common drug used for treating all types of babesiosis while Babesia canis will only be treated by imidocarb disproportionate. You need to be extremely careful and prevent your dog from being infected by Babesios gibsonu and Babesia conradae. This is usually because these two are hard to treat. Nonetheless, a combination of pentamidine isethionate and atovaquone may help treat the condition.

Prevention

One of the major sources to prevent Babesiosis is to prevent tick exposure. You need to keep a check on your dog and remove ticks as soon as you notice them. Moreover, you should keep an eye on your dog, once you have brought them home from a walk.

Several products are present in the market to prevent ticks and parasites. You can consult the vet and use these tick prevention products. Also, you need to ensure that the grass in your garden is trimmed to avoid ticks from other dogs in your area.

Most dogs show signs of recovery in the initial phases of treatment, while some may be slow. Even after the complete recovery of your dog, you should take them to the vet for follow-up appointments. The chances of relapse are very high even after recovery. Therefore, keeping a check on your dog can help you not only prevent but save your dog from the risk of suffering once again.

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