Tick ​​bites can transmit the protozoan that causes canine babesiosis, which affects red blood cells. Babesiosis has three different clinical conditions with different symptoms:

  • Hyperacute state: shock from hypothermia, lack of oxygen in tissues (tissue hypoxia) and more lesions in blood vessels and tissues. This type of canine babesiosis occurs in dogs that have suffered severe tick infestations and in very vulnerable puppies. They rarely manage to overcome the disease.
  • Acute state: destruction of red blood cells that ends in hemolytic anemia, fever, inflammation of the lymph nodes, inflammation of the spleen, jaundice.
  • Chronic state: anemia, weight loss, intermittent fever, vomiting, diarrhea, ascites, neuronal and ocular problems, lack of coordination and seizures. It is not very common.

Have you observed in your dog some of these symptoms of canine babesiosis? Go to your veterinarian, you need urgent treatment! Sometimes, There are also cases of dogs carrying the protozoan that have asymptomatic babesiosis.

Treatment of canine babesiosis

The treatment of babesiosis, If the diagnosis is confirmed, it consists of antiparasitic drugs to end babesia. They are usually administered by subcutaneous injection. In addition, if the dog has anemia, blood transfusions may be necessary.

There is also the option of treating babesiosis with antibiotics, but these treatments are not usually as effective. Undoubtedly, The best treatment against canine babesiosis is prevention. Keep your dog well protected from ticks and other parasites by deworming it frequently!

Babesiosis is not the only disease that ticks can transmit to your dog. Be very careful with parasites!


It was first designated for Venezuela by Volgelsang and Gallo (1950).
Canine babesiosis is an infection caused by a tick-borne hematozoa, usually Babesia canis and Babesia Gibsoni, which appears mostly in the southern United States. Infections tend to appear in dogs under one year of age. The disease is transmitted by ticks of the genus Ixodes.

After the infestation, the Babesia organisms multiply inside the erythrocytes. It is suspected that there is transplacental transmission and has been associated with the ‘fainting of the puppy’ syndrome.

In acute cases there is an increase in temperature that reaches 40 to 43 degrees for 2 to 3 days, with prostration, cyanotic visible mucous membranes and then become icteric, increased pulse, dysneic breathing, appetite is suppressed> acute anemia, thrombocytopenia, lymphoadenomegaly, splenomegaly and mild to severe lung disease, vomiting, diarrhea and ulcerative stomatitis, hemorrhage, myositis, rhabdomyolysis, CNS symptoms (Central Nervous System) Hypotensive shock, hypoxia, sudden death.

In chronic cases the fever is discrete, pale mucosa> anemia progressively.

Dogs retain parasites for 2 to 3 years and while this happens they are refractory to infection.

Prophylaxis: Fight against ticks, being careful to rid dogs of dogs more sensitive to this disease, which are the fine breeds, especially those that are exposed to their attacks.



  • Splenomegaly
  • Diarrhea
  • Threw up
  • Ulcers of the oral mucous membranes
  • Anorexy


  • Anemia
  • Cyanosis
  • Jaundice
  • Hemorrhage of any part of the body
  • Ataxia
  • Sudden death
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Polydipsia
  • Fever

What produces it and how is babesiosis acquired?

Canine babesiosis is caused by a protozoan that parasites red blood cells. There are two species of protozoa that cause disease in the dog, Babesia canis and Babesia gibsoni. Parasites infect the dog through the intervention of a vector, the tick. There are several species of ticks that can be transmitters. Another form of infection is the blood transfusion of an infected animal.

How does canine babesiosis attack?

Experts have identified the most dangerous genotype of this bacterium as canis vogeli. It is an indirect-cycle intracellular hematozoa, that is, it needs a host before it can develop.

In words that we all understand: this bacterium seeks a host to survive, which are usually ticks. Through them it develops its larvae and they act on our dog causing the infectious process.

If until now canine babesiosis had remained a virtually unknown danger, it is because the bacteria need warm climates to survive, so it is more common to find it in countries with tropical and subtropical climates.

But as we all know the consequences of climate change and the anomalies that we are experiencing in Europe in this regard, we must begin to see this problem of babesiosis as something to be faced on a daily basis. And you should take special care in the summer months.

Diagnose babesiosis

Babesiosis is characterized by anemia and thrombocytopenia (low number of platelets). Serum biochemistry and urine analytics may present alterations, but they are not disease specific.

For the definitive diagnosis, the presence of the parasite in the blood must be visualized. If it is not observed, it cannot be ruled out and then serology (detection of antibodies against the parasite) is the basis of the diagnosis. The most important drawback of serology is that it cannot differentiate between the two Babesia species that produce this disease in dogs.

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Transmitting agent:Tick Region of Origin:Red blood cells in dogs Form of propagation:Saliva

Canine Babesiosis It is a disease that affects red blood cells in dogs of any age, produced by Babesia canis. It is a hematic protozoosis transmitted by ticks. It produces a progressive anemia as the primary element in the development of symptoms.

This disease is found in domestic and wild animals and a great variety of them are the reservoir hosts of more than 30 known species of Babesia, worldwide. This disease is considered a zoonosis occasionally acquired by man from these animals.

  • Canine piroplasmosis
  • Bile fever
  • Malignant jaundice
  • Tick ​​Fever

Historical review

After the parasites were observed in blood, by the Italian researchers Piana and Galli - Valecio (1895), the disease was diagnosed by Purvis, Duncan, Hulcheon and Lounsbury in southern Africa, by Koch in the east and by Marchoux in Senegal. In France it was seen by Nocard and Alney in hunting dogs and, carefully studied by several authors in different years, obtaining remarkable results of the specific treatment of evil.

On the existence of the canine piroplasmosisIn Cuba, it was reported in 1933 at the Calixto García hospital by doctors Rogelio Arenas, José G. Basnuevo and Pedro Kourí. When a case of human leishmaniasis was suspected, three dogs were given the task of autopsy to investigate their viscera, detecting the presence of these parasitic forms in the second autopsy in a smear of the spleen, liver and kidney, but not in bone marrow. The largest number of parasites was found in the spleen. Peripheral blood was parasite negative. Of these three autopsies two were negative.

How to prevent babesiosis

In Europe there is a commercialized vaccine against babesiosis produced by Babesia canis, but the studies carried out are contradictory regarding its efficacy.

The main form of prevention is the control of ticks in the dog. Dogs should be inspected frequently to detect the presence of ticks. Antiparasitic baths, cleaning with environmental insecticide products, use of amitraz collars, or other topical antiparasitic products effective against ticks (sprayers, pipettes) are useful preventive measures so that the dog is not infested with ticks.

It must be remembered that a form of transmission of the disease is through transfusion and, therefore, the blood to be transfused must be previously analyzed.

Epizootiological location

It is considered of the cosmopolitan type, of greater severity in the countries of warm climate and frequent in the tropical countries, being much more rare in the countries of temperate zones, in which it is generally chronic.

There are three species of Babesia:

The latter is only known in countries in Africa and Asia and its agent may be a strain of B. canis rather than a different species.

The B. canis and the B. vogeli They are similar in size and morphological appearance. They are observed as even piriform trophozoites within the infested erythrocytes. They are considered large. There is usually multiple infestation within the erythrocyte, and may contain 4-16 parasites. They can also exist outside the erythrocyte, that is, in the blood plasma.

The B. gibsoni It is smaller and appears as an annular or oval trophozoite, isolated in infested red blood cells. Each red blood cell can contain up to 30 copies.


By fixing the infested ticks, experimental infestation can be achieved. Transplacental transmission was reported and transfusion of infested blood is also usually used experimentally.

One or two days after the infestation there is an initial parasitemia that lasts about 4 days. The organisms then disappear from the peripheral blood for a period of 10 - 14 days, after which a second more intense parasitemia occurs, alternating periods of parasitemia and stillness occur at varying intervals.

Dogs that survive acute babesiosis or have asymptomatic infestations, usually become chronic carriers.

Biological cycle

The replication of the B. canis occurs by binary fission of trophozoites in red blood cells. This parasitemia causes intravascular and extra vascular hemolysis.

When hypoxia occurs as a result of hemolysis, microvascular damage leads to the appearance of DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) that may interest smaller vessels, even those in the brain.

These trophozoites can also exist in the lung, liver and inside macrophages and neutrophils.

Hepatosplenomegaly occurs because of passive congestion and hyperplasia of the phagocyte - mononuclear system.

Pathogenic actions

Babesia exerts different actions on the erythrocyte.

  1. Spoliatrix action: when feeding on the substances of the erythrocyte.
  2. Mechanical action: by occupying a large part of the functional space inside the globule.
  3. Traumatic action: by destroying it.
  4. Mechanical action: at the level of capillaries causing agglomerations.
  5. Toxic action: for secretion and excretion products.

Many babesias infestations, in some cases, the clinical signs are evident only after the stress of excessive exercise, surgery and concurrent infections.

In acute cases after an incubation of 7-10 days, as a first manifestation of the disease, an elevation of the body temperature is observed, which reaches 2 or 3 days 40 - 43 ° C and is accompanied by prostration, intense anemia, depression, rapid pulse , later ichteric red mucous membranes, clumsy movements, appreciable increase of the spleen on palpation, ataxia, general weakness sometimes hemoglobinuria, exponential and recurrent skin hemorrhages in the ears, respiratory and digestive disorders and increase in the amount of water consumed.

In chronic cases the fever is completely lacking or can be observed in the first days of the disease or intermittent type in rare cases, little jaundice, wasting, decay, circulatory manifestations, edema, ascites and stomatitis and gastritis may exist. At the ocular level, keratitis and iritis, muscular and rheumatoid pain are observed. Sometimes the CNS is affected, with locomotion problems such as cerebral ataxia, parecia, epileptiform contractions.

Brain problems are similar to those observed in rabies due to the agglomeration of trophozoites at the level of the cerebral capillaries. On palpation of the abdomen there is a marked increase in the liver and spleen, pale mucous membranes, rapid and difficult breathing with signs of respiratory failure, sometimes hemorrhagic diarrhea.

Anatomical alterations

  • Spleen enlarged with dark red flesh, light in appearance with prominent corpuscles.
  • The liver appears congested with foci of lobular center necrosis.
  • The kidney appears with foci of necrosis or nephritis.
  • The pale heart> Immunity

Protective immunity does not develop against Babesia and animals are susceptible to reinfection after the organism is removed by chimeotherapy.

A state of premunition develops in chronic asymptomatic infested patients and they resist a major infection as long as the infestation that persists is under control and in balance with the host's immune response.

Stress or immunosuppression promotes relapses and the reactivation of chronic infections.


It is performed by the identification of parasites in smear erythrocytes, preferably of peripheral blood stained with giemsa. Babesias are easily detected in smears from the microcapillary system such as joint margins, nails, or in the edge of the plantar pads. However, parasites cannot always be demonstrated in blood smears, and preparations can be used by imprinting from organs, such as the lung.

Bone marrow puncture and biopsy, spleen, liver and lymph nodes can be performed where parasites can be observed.

In addition, the inoculation of laboratory animals or the serological study with determination of antibodies against the protozoan can be used for confirmation of the diagnosis, such as: ELISA, precipitation test, Coombs test, etc.


With other hemoparasitosis:

  • Canine Echrlichiosis: It is a parasitic rickettsia of the lymphocyte lymphocyte cytoplasm of the dog.
  • Canine leishmaniasis: They are also protozoa but parasitize the reticuloendothelial cells of the internal organs, for example: the liver, spleen, lymph nodes and bone marrow and rarely in leukocytes, it is also transmitted not by ticks, but by a kind of fly. (Spleen swelling and bony marrow coloration).
  • Hepatozoonosis: Characterized by muscle aches and muscle atrophy, severe diarrhea, observing a leukocytosis, eosinophilia and neutrophilia.

Bra therapy

It aims to combat shock and correct anemia and pronounced metabolic acidosis. Erythrocyte or whole blood transfusions are indicated in cases of severe anemia (hematocrit less than 15%) after transfusion the minimum HTO should reach 30% in the recipient.

Blood donors should be evaluated periodically, to ensure they have no chronic infection since transfusion is an efficient means of transmitting this agent. Glucocorticoids (prednisolone sodium succinate) 11 mg / kg / 3H (EV) can be used.

Broad spectrum antibiotics: chloramphenicol | or clindamycin, ampicillin (EV) recommended for dogs in shock.

Metabolic acidosis: EV (rapid) Sodium bicarbonate 1 mg / pound is recommended in serious anemic schock, for this based on the analysis of bicarbonatemia, this can be repeated in 24 h. There are 3 effective drugs for the elimination of the parasite in a single dose: Diminazeno aceturate (3.5 mg / kg via IM or SC). It has been proven that diminazene or berenyl can cause acute fatal poisoning in dogs, characterized by nerve symptoms and brain damage of vascular origin. The sensitivity of animals to the toxicity of the product is variable.

  • Fight the Shock
  • glucocorticoid> etiological treatment

Phenamidine Isethionate (15 mg / kg (SC). Imidocarb or imizol dipropionate (5 mg / kg (IM or SC). This is the drug of choice because it is the least toxic and yields the highest cure rate against the babesia canis, is not as effective against B. gibsoni which tends to resist with chemotherapy. The effect of this medicine in dogs has been observed in studies, presenting difficulty in breathing, weakness, decay and profuse diarrhea.

In autopsies, edemas are observed in pulmonary alveoli with congestion of the alveolar capillaries, in addition to necrosis of the cells of the tubular epithelium of the renal cortex, liver and spleen, with moderate increase and congestion. The adverse effect of this medicine is due to the excessive action of acetylcholine (12). Said medicine can be applied prophylactically in doses of 0.5 mL / 10 kg (single dose) protecting the animal for four weeks. In infections combined with Echrlichia and Hepatozoon a second dose of imidocarb is used, 14 days after the initial dose.