Babesiosis is a parasitic disease caused by infection with Babesia, a genus of protozoan piroplasms, transmitted by ticks. These microscopic parasites infect red blood cells causing symptoms that can be either almost inexistent to very severe, even fatal. The severity of the disease depends on the immune system of the dog, for example, breeds like Greyhounds, Pitbull Terriers or American Staffordshire Terriers are more susceptible to infection.
There is a wide range of symptoms and signs of infection with Babesia such as:
Diagnosing infection with Babesia is rather difficult, blood tests showing a decrease in red blood cells, thrombocytopenia, but this is not specific for Babesiosis. The only way to be certain about the diagnosis is to examine the blood smears for the presence of Babesia organisms. If these organisms are indeed found, only then can you begin the treatment.
Babesiosis is one of those diseases that is a lot more easier to prevent than to treat. Being transmitted by ticks, the most important thing is to keep your dog up to date with his anti-parasitic treatment, external as well as internal.
Another important prophylactic factor is avoiding taking in your dog in the woods or anywhere with tall grass in tick season. You might also want to keep your lawn trimmed and even treat the yard where you dog plays for ticks.
It is your duty as a dog owner to do everything in your power to prevent your dog from getting sick. This includes regular visits to the vet, vaccination, anti-parasitic treatment, a well-balanced diet, grooming and sometimes even mowing your lawn. If you find a tick on your dog do not hesitate going to a vet: better safe than sorry!