Canine Babesiosis (Piroplasmosis) – What You Need To Know!

Canine Babesiosis is a disease that can be serious if not discovered in time, including leading the animal to death.

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It is also known as piroplasmosis, the disease is caused by a protozoan called Babesia canis. This protozoan is a hematozoan, that is, it reproduces in the bloodstream and feeds on the blood components of the animal, specifically the red blood cells.

This protozoan can be found all over the world, and its most common form of transmission is by the Rhipicephalus sanguineus (parasite you see in the picture), better known as brown tick or red dog tick.

To read everything you need to know about canine Babesiosis or Piroplasmosis, continue here at YourCatCareguide.

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What is Canine Babesiosis?

Canine Babesiosis or Piroplasmosis is a very important subject because it often leads the dog to death, and is directly related to the presence of ticks in the animal and the environment. As this protozoan infects the red blood cells, which are the red blood cells, it is also known by the term hematozoa.

The protozoan transmits the piroplasmosis through the brown tick , which is the tick that most commonly infects dogs, called the Rhipicephalus sanguineus . Ticks are not commonly found in cats, but as the protozoan has several species, among them the species Babesia canis, which infects dogs , Babesia felis and Babesia cati , which is the specific hematozoa responsible for infecting cats through the same tick.

Canine babesiosis can be confused with Tick Disease, because the protozoan is transmitted by a tick. So to learn more about Tick ​​Disease in Dogs – Symptoms and Treatment see this other article from YourCatCareguide.

Transmission of Canine Babesiosis

Ticks are the most important transmission factor for canine babesiosis, hence the importance of fighting ticks.

Mites, ectoparasites that feed on blood and responsible for the transmission of various diseases to dogs, cats, horses, oxen, several other mammals and even humans. They are beings that are sensitive to light, and therefore prefer dark environments where they can hide. Because of this, they often lodge in dogs in difficult-to-access places such as between the fingers, armpits and ears, because they are low-light and warm environments, perfect for feeding and procreation. The females of this tick ( Rhipicephalus sanguineus) are able to lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs per day, but do not lay their eggs directly on the host, during the night they descend from the dog and lay their eggs on the ground or in the environment in which the dog has access. When the eggs hatch on larvae and the larvae undergo nutating, they rise again in the host dog until they become adults and start the cycle again.

To know more about other Diseases that ticks can transmit see this article of YourCatCareguide.

The transmission of Babesia canis , the hematozoan, occurs when an infected tick bites a healthy animal. In order to feed the blood, the tick then injects saliva into the host dog, since this saliva has anticoagulant properties making it easier for the tick to feed on host blood. However, it ends up inoculating the hematozoa that causes piroplasmosis in the dog’s bloodstream .

When it enters the bloodstream of the animal, the protozoan enters the red blood cells, feeding on its nutrients and reproducing inside these cells, until the number of protozoa inside the cell becomes so large that the cell becomes breaks, releasing even more protozoa into the bloodstream that penetrate other cells and so on. It is due to this, that one of the most important symptoms of canine babesiosis occurs and we will speak next.

Symptoms of Canine Babesiosis

Clinical signs or symptoms will depend on the degree of infestation and progression of the condition. Once a dog is infected the disease can still take months to appear as the parasite can remain in a state of latency where it waits for the best opportunity indicated by the low immunity of the dog, ie a dog may be infected by the protozoan of piroplasmosis without any sign of the disease, however, the moment his immunity falls he manifests the disease.

As stated earlier, this protozoan parasites the red blood cells, and this therefore causes one of the most important symptoms of anemia. Other symptoms of canine babesiosis can be:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Fever.
  • Mucous pale or icteric (yellowish).
  • Prostration.
  • Depression.
  • Possible problems with blood clotting.

However, some of the early symptoms that indicate an infection such as fever and depression may go undetected by tutors. And when the tutor realizes that the animal does not interact anymore (prostration) and stops eating, when taking it to the veterinarian and finding out the disease, the anemia is usually already at an advanced stage, making the prognosis difficult to treat. Therefore, it is necessary to always be alert to any of these signs, especially if you have found some tick in your pet or even walking the walls or backyard of your house recently.

Clinical picture of canine Babesiosis

Piroplasmosis or babesiosis can still manifest in 3 different forms , or 3 phases, according to the degree of evolution of the disease.

  • Hyperacute phase: Rare to occur, but extremely serious, since the animal may die within 3 days due to extensive damage to the blood cells leading to severe anemia. It affects more puppies or elderly dogs, since they have a compromised immunity.
  • Acute Phase: There is marked anemia with onset of fever, prostration, lack of appetite and generalized weakness. Clinical examination may also indicate enlargement of the spleen and lymph nodes. And because of problems in the blood’s anticoagulant properties, the animal often loses blood through the urine.
  • Chronic Phase: When the disease is present in this way, it is considered soft because the animal does not present symptoms characteristic of Piroplasmosis. The dog may have intermittent fever and weight loss with a slight decrease in appetite and lymph node involvement. This may make it difficult to diagnose the disease, and if not discovered in time, when the animal shows to drop in immunity it may manifest more aggravating.

It is important to note that because it is a systemic disease, that is, it affects all blood vessels and blood vessels in the body, clinical complications can be observed in other organs of the body such as liver, spleen, kidneys, brain and heart .

Diagnosis of Canine Babesiosis

The correct diagnosis of canine Babesiosis should be made by a competent veterinarian, since only he has the technical and scientific knowledge sufficient to carry out the anamnesis, obtaining the detailed history of the patient.

After a physical examination by the veterinarian, the veterinarian can then request important additional tests to assist in closing the diagnosis and confirming the suspicion, which can be:

  • Complete blood tests as a blood count, serological tests and PCR.
  • Ultrasound, especially the abdominal region, in order to detect changes in other organs such as the spleen, which may be increased.

It is important that the diagnosis is confirmed as soon as possible and that the tutor does not take too long to perform the examinations requested by the veterinarian, since the beginning of the treatment and the life of your animal depends on it.

Treatment of Canine Babesiosis

After confirmation of the suspicion and correct closure of the diagnosis by the veterinarian, he will verify the prognosis of the dog, instituting the therapy to be followed.

If the prognosis is good, the veterinarian will prescribe the necessary veterinary medicines and soon the dog will be able to continue the treatment at home , under the care of the guardian.

In more severe cases of the disease, however, it is necessary to admit the dog for catheter feeding and even blood transfusion in cases of severe anemia .

Do not try home treatments as it is a serious illness and it can get worse by taking your puppy to death if not treated properly by a veterinarian.

Prevention of Canine Babesiosis

Because it is a tick-borne disease, the best way to prevent Piroplasmosis is to keep our dogs always free of ticks and other parasites.

There are a number of pouches on the market, such as pour-on or anti-flea pipettes, which also prevent and protect against ticks and should be applied to our dogs on a monthly basis, according to the indications of the product.

The environment in which the animal lives must also be sanitized, and the guardian can make preventive use of specific antiparasitics for the environment or even the popular technique known as the Broom of Fire. It is a technique used on large farms to de-parasite a large number of stalls where animals live, and which has been adapted by some people who own very large backyards where the total elimination of ticks became a challenge.

vassoura de fogo nada mais é do que um lança-chamas, onde acopla-se um maçarico em um botijão de gás. Passa-se o fogo no quintal em que os animais dormem e ficam, e nas paredes, já que os carrapatos são capazes de atingirem o alto das paredes e muros. Não tente fazer isso em casa sozinho, sem a ajuda de um responsável ou alguém que entenda do assunto.

Este artigo é meramente informativo, no não temos capacidade para receitar tratamentos veterinários nem realizar nenhum tipo de diagnóstico. Sugerimos-lhe que leve o seu animal de estimação ao veterinário no caso de apresentar qualquer tipo de condição ou mal-estar.

If you want to read the similar articles as Babesiose canina (piroplasmosis) – What you need to know! , we recommend that you enter our section on Infectious Diseases .

Emily Harris

Hi Guys, Girls, and Cats:-p I am Emily Harris, and you can see in above pic. She loves me I swear. I saved her from a dumpster a few weeks back.

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