A warning has been issued to dog owners to make sure that their dogs are free of ticks, and that the owner’s themselves know how to spot the signs that their dog may have ticks, as a potentially fatal disease born by the bugs has come to the UK for the first time.
The disease, babesiosis was first seen in Harlow, Essex, but there is the possibility that it could spread further, especially as it is a foreign disease, and our vets are not experienced in dealing with.
The disease is thought to have been brought over on an animal with a ‘pet passport’. It is passed on by ticks, similar to malaria in the way that it is composed of microscopic parasites which breed in the ticks and are injected to the dogs through the salivary glands of the ticks.
You need to make sure that you check your dog for fleas and ticks often, even if you don’t live in this area.
The disease is born by ticks and dogs become infected when the ticks latch onto their skin. Ticks can be spotted with the naked eye by looking closely at the skin of your pet, and your dog may scratch and lick repeatedly at a site infected with a tick. However, they also have a habit of latching onto places which are dark and hidden, such as in the groin or between the toes.
If you spot a tick sticking out of your pet’s skin, the advice is to gently grab it with a pair of tweezers, and gently but firmly pull directly away from the skin, without twisting or angling the body at all, as this can lead to the head coming off and remaining under your pets skin.
Drop any ticks in a small amount of alcohol to kill them. Crushing rarely works.
If you are having any difficulty removing or spotting ticks, take your dog to the vets. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially if you live near one of the areas with reported cases of babesiosis.