The tick season has begun in full swing. Dog owners do their best to protect their friends. We should remember that no preparation gives our pets 100% protection. It is important to check our dog thoroughly every day after a walk and safely remove the tick if it is found. We should also remember to pay attention to any change in the pet’s behaviour and the case of any problems, to react quickly.
Ticks are arachnids best known for the distinctive way in which they attack their hosts. They attach themselves to the skin of mammals, including humans, and remain in that position for long periods, drinking blood and increasing in size. Ticks also transmit dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and Babesiosis.
Babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Babesia Canis. There are two sub-species are pathogenic for dogs: B. canis canis and B.canis Vogel.
How does infection occur?
The tick sucked on the animal introduces pathogenic babesiosis protozoa into its bloodstream, which attacks the erythrocytes (red blood cells). The Babesia canis protozoa penetrate the affected cell, where they multiply rapidly. As a result, the blood cell is ruptured and the parasite attacks further erythrocytes. All this leads to the destruction of a large proportion of red blood cells and thus to anaemia. There is also significant damage to internal organs, particularly the kidneys and liver.
Symptoms of the disease, which can appear over several days to even several weeks, include:
- apathy – the animal becomes lethargic, does not enjoy e.g.
- the animal will drink a lot of liquids
- enlarged lymph nodes
- high fever, up to 40-41 °C
- diarrhoea (often with blood in it)
- yellowing or pale mucous membranes in the mouth
- urinary problems, brown urine (haematuria)
- respiratory and circulatory failure
- nervous system disorders
How can you remove a tick at home?
Use tweezers (preferably curved) to grasp the tick by the head as close to the skin as possible. Remove the tick by pulling it vertically upwards in a uniform motion.
If you do not want or know how to remove a tick yourself at home, go to a vet. The same applies if you do not manage to pull out the tick as a whole.
Also, remember to check your dog thoroughly after every walk or outing. Keep an eye on your dog’s behaviour to spot the first signs of distress.