Dog ticks

What is babesiosis and how to recognize it?

Todays topic is very relevant in the spring. In dogs there are diseases transmitted by ticks, therefore it is important that the owners know how to recognize symptoms on time. Today we are writing about Babesiosis, also known as piroplasmosis, which is very well-known among pet owners.

Dog ticks transmit babesiosis, a very important widespread parasitic disease, that is common in our country. The cause in our region is a protozoa Babesia canis. Most common ticks are from the Ixodidae family. 

Babesia multiplies in erythrocytes which causes their destruction and intravascular haemolytic anemia. The severity of the disease depends on the parasite species and subspecies as well as the host's immune system.

Acute infection

There are several obvious symptoms that occur during the Babesiosis infection in dogs. 

During the acute infection dogs experience: acute hemolysis, fever and increase in water intake, often followed by jaundice and petechiae (red or purple spots on the skin or conjunctiva, caused by a minor bleed). Specialist methods of examination can show azotemia in the blood, and ultrasound can show liver and spleen enlargement.

One of the signs that owners can note is that urine is a different colour, like iodine or black coffee. The number and intensity od clinical sings depends of the stage of the infection.

Chronic infection

Signs of chronic infection are: acute renal insufficiency, neurological dysfunction, respiratory distress, myocarditis, hypotension and pancreatitis. CBC analysis shows anemia, trombocytopenia and leukocytosis. Results of serum biochemistry depends on the severity of the illness. Usually, liver enzymes will be elevated, and there will also be hypokalemia. In more severe cases there is an elevation in BUN, whereas creatinine levels stay normal. 


Definitive diagnosis is made by confiriming the parasite in a Giemsa stain blood smear. A neagtive blood smear doesn't exclude Babesiosis.


Babesiosis therapy depends on the seveity of the illness and it can be more or less complicated. The specific aniprotozal agents are used. Sometimes, fluid therapy or even blood transfusion is needed. 

It is advised to use vitamin and mineral supplements and medicinal food. The most important supplements are those for liver function and regeneration.

On the other hand, the most important step in babesiosis prevention is overall tick control. The key is in regular treatment if the dog lives in the conditions with a greater chance for tick-borne diseases, like deep water, river, swamp or pond proximity, etc.


If you notice your pet has some of these signs, make sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. In case you have any doubts, feel free to call us for advice: 065/3565664

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