Dear Weedon Vets
I’m a bit worried that my dog isn’t on anything to treat ticks, after hearing about the tick disease in Essex. She’s on a spot-on that stops lungworm but I don’t think it does ticks as well. Should I be worried about ticks? Do I need to change what I’m using?
Alison (Nether Heyford)
The cases of Babesiosis in Essex are concerning. This disease is carried by a tick that is normally only found on the continent but none of the dogs affected had travelled abroad. This means that, potentially, this tick is now resident in the UK, but further research is needed to confirm that. The Babesiosis parasite carried by this species of tick is transmitted to dogs when the tick feeds on them for 24-48 hours. It then destroys red blood cells and causes a life-threatening anaemia.
Lungworm in dogs is also a potentially life threatening condition but unfortunately no single product is currently licenced to treat both parasites (i.e. had clinical trials to prove that it works). There are several products that can be used to keep your dog safe. I would suggest you talk to your vet about the best combinations. There may be tick treatments that can be used in addition to your current spot-on or you could change to a tick preventative and an alternative lungworm treatment. However, not all tick treatments work in the same way. You need a product that ideally will repel or kill the ticks before they can feed, in order to prevent transmission of Babesiosis.
Fortunately most tick treatments also prevent fleas which, though not as serious, are a year round problem!
If you need any further information please don’t hesitate to contact us at the surgery on 01327 344999
Sarah Elliot MRCVS