Veterinary

Tick-borne disease deadly to UK dogs

A dog in Essex has died and three others are seriously unwell following an outbreak of babesiosis. The disease is caused by the Babesia canis parasite and is borne by ticks discovered in fields within the Harlow area of Essex.

Andrew Bucher, co-founder and chief veterinary officer of MedicAnimal, commented: “Exotic diseases are now possibly no longer foreign to the UK, although many pet owners don’t check for ticks as they feel it will only affect their dog and not them, especially if they do not travel.

“While we would ordinarily expect tick season to begin across March and November, the recent trend of milder winters have meant that pet owners should be alert earlier in the year.”

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“With the relaxation of the pet passport rules within the EU, family pets are now no longer required to undergo tick-treatment before returning to the UK, and several species of tick, such as the brown dog tick, can carry diseases not normally found in the UK, such as babesia canis, which affects red blood cells.

“While there are a range of treatment options available, prevention will always be better than a cure, and we would urge pet owners to remain vigilant and regularly check their animals. It pays to be careful, and with several species of tick living indoors and able to breed year round, pet owners should look for signs of ticks outside of the regular season.”

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