Babesiosis and your dog: Prevention, and treatment, of tick bites

11 CommentsThursday, 1 September 2016  |  Kate

As if we didn’t have enough on, dog owners have a new tick bourne disease on our shores to contend with. Babesiosis is new to the UK and is spread by ticks carrying the Babesia canis parasite. The new trend for travelling with dogs across Europe has increased exposure to the infected ticks and warmer winters in the UK make it easier for ticks to survive the trip home.

Babesiosis can be fatal to dogs very quickly so preventing them getting bitten in the first place is key to keeping it under control. Greyhounds, Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Pit Bulls, dogs and pups, seems to be most vulnerable though no one’s quite sure why.

How dogs get babesiosis
Ticks predominantly hang about in fields, pasture and woods. Anywhere they will find a passing host: deer, sheep, foxes….your dog.

Given half a chance, a tick will latch on to your dog, break through the skin and start to feed on their blood. Ticks go for thin fur and exposed skin so pay particular attention to armpits, groin, abdomen, lower legs, under the chin, on the face and in the ears.

If the tick is carrying disease it will be passed on through their saliva into your dog’s bloodstream. The longer the tick feeds for the greater the chance of passing it on: Babesiosis in this case.

Once the Babesia canis parasite, has entered your dog’s bloodstream it will get into the cells. The dog’s own defences will attack the parasite to kill it but will actually start to destroy their own blood cells in the process. So your dog becomes anaemic very quickly.

Signs and symptoms of babesiosis
The symptoms of babesiosis in dogs to look out for include weakness, lethargy, pale gums, red urine and fever. A serious problem is that Babesia can be mistaken for other less dangerous diseases.

Get your dog to the vet asap if you suspect something is wrong and mention babesiosis, where you have been walking your dog and if you have removed any ticks recently or seen any bites on your dog. If you do remove a tick, and have the presence of mind, bag them up and freeze them. Take them with you to the vet for testing.

How to prevent your dog getting bitten by a tick
For those seeking a natural prevention route with no strong pesticides from Advocate or Stronghold etc. it’s easy. Follow these simple steps to prevent ticks jumping on in the first place using our tried and tested neem based products.

  1. Daily: Use Skinny Spray daily before a walk. Spray it on your dog, especially on the areas where fur is particularly thin: groin, armpits, just inside the ears etc. as ticks love those easy to reach spots. This will help stop ticks jumping on board and feeding on your dog.
  2. Long term: Put your dog on Billy No Mates herbal flea, tick and mite treatment. It takes up to six weeks to get properly into the system but once it’s in anything hopping on will either hop off again, or die. It’s brilliant stuff.
  3. As and when: Wash your dog in Skinny Shampoo, leave it on for up to ten minutes then rinse off. It kills and deters fleas, ticks, mites and lice. This will help protect your dog while the Billy kicks in.

I’ve put together a babesiosis prevention kit for you here.

What to do if you find a tick on your dog

Remove the tick properly and safely
Check your dog after a walk. If you do see a tick you must remove it properly and get the whole tick. There are only two ways of doing this: Using a pair of fine medical tweezers (not eyebrow tweezers) or an O’Tom Tick Twister. Doing it incorrectly can leave mouth parts behind in your dog’s skin. See our Tick Twister page for a video showing the correct way to remove a tick.

• Wear gloves to remove a tick in case of Lyme disease
• Remove the tick using a Tick Twister or fine tweezers

Now treat the bite area

• If the tick site is bleeding make it bleed a little more by squeezing, the way you would if you cut yourself
• Wash the bite site thoroughly
• Spray Skinny Spray onto the bite area and rub it right in. Do that a couple of times a day for a few days. The neem will also help prevent infection.
• Watch your dog for any signs and symptoms (see above)
• Kill the tick, bag it and freeze it. If you end up at the vets take it with you.

Neem is a natural insect repellent. Not only that it is a well known endocrine disrupter which means once it’s got into a tick it will mess with their reproductive cycle. More neem means less ticks in the world. Hooray!

Babesiosis will travel so be prepared.
While it’s new to the UK and so far we are only seeing cases in Essex babsiosis is going to spread very easily. Once the tick latches on it can stay there, feeding, for days so, where the host goes, the tick goes too.

Ticks love sheep, deer, foxes, hedgehogs, dogs and cats, anything they can get a blood meal from. Once they’ve dropped off your dog they may be miles away from where they started out. They hop onto another dog, or a fox and they’re off again. So keep an eye out for ticks and remove them as soon as you find them. If you’re unsure ask your vet to remove it.

So be watchful and prepared. Do as much as you can to prevent ticks biting your dog in the first place and if you do find a tick on your dog make sure you remove it correctly.

Buy Your Tick Bite Prevention Kit Here

Mary Hazell
Monday, 28 March 2016  |  2:48

Please can you tell if these products are suitable for a dog with wheat and gluten intolerance

Tuesday, 29 March 2016  |  13:09

Hi Mary

Yes they're fine. No wheat or gluten in any of them.


Wednesday, 30 March 2016  |  14:02

Can you tell me if you think the BNM tincture would be better to 'hide' than the powder form please. Also my dog has advocate and drontal at the moment but I hate using the chemicals on him as he comes up in a huge red sore patch. If I use verm x and BNM together am I covered for the same things including the lungworm? Someone has suggested we should use milbamex as well, is that necessary? Glad they are all gluten and wheat free as my dog has an allergy and is a raw fed boy. Thank you

Thursday, 31 March 2016  |  18:01

Hi Dawn.

I would use Billy and Four Seasons but overlap them with the last lot of Advocate and Drontal. Actually I would use Milbemax as I'm hearing about sores and Advocate.

If lungworm is rife in your area see how you feel about only using Four Seasons but will be fine as long as you are consistent. Though you can say that about Milbemax too!

Dawn Palmer
Saturday, 2 April 2016  |  15:25

Hi Kate, sorry I am a little are you saying I should use four seasons, BNM and milbemax? What about the verm x?, I had intended to start the BNM and the verm x to coincide with our last advocate and drontal so they are simultaneous for the first month. Sorry I just want to be clear in my mind as to what I need to give. Thank you

Janis Hill
Thursday, 31 March 2016  |  15:30

I have just started my dog on Billy no Mates . I use Neem Oil and use Itchy Dog shampoo and spray so hope my dog will be protected though took a normal tick off him yesterday . I live in France and when I was in with my cat I asked my vet if he knew about these new ticks . He replied no and asked if I could get a picture of one and information for him .
Where could I find more information to give to him Kate ?

Thursday, 31 March 2016  |  18:03

Hi Janis

This is a really good site. I'm surprised your vet doesn't know about it as it's come over from Europe.

We have warmer winters now and more dogs go abroad with their owners, hence the problem.


Sally Rutherford
Thursday, 31 March 2016  |  15:44

Is theSkinny spray herbal,I am trying to avoid all chemical repellents now.

Thursday, 31 March 2016  |  18:04

Hi Sally

Yes, with added neem which comes from the neem tree. It's all good.


Thursday, 7 April 2016  |  10:48

Hi Dawn

No, I'm saying that the Four Seasons or Verm-X and the Billy will work fine once you've overlapped your last Milbemax/Drontal. But, if you prefer you can use the Billy for repelling fleas, ticks and mites externally and continue to use the Milbemax/Drontal internally. It's a personal choice.


Dawn Palmer
Tuesday, 12 April 2016  |  16:10

Ah I see, thank you. We have gone with the verm x and BNM and so far so good!