This information is given solely as an alternative for those people who either cannot afford veterinary care for their dog(s) and/or who do not have access to veterinary facilities. By reading or utilizing this information, the reader agrees to waive any and all rights, claims, causes of action, or any other allegations of injury, property damage, and/or emotional distress against California Jack and/or its owner, affiliated entities, associates, partners, etc. Further, the reader/user of this information agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless California Jack, and/or any of its owners, affiliated entities, associates, partners, etc., against any and all such rights, claims, causes of action, or any other allegations of injury, property damage, and/or emotional distress against California Jack, etc. The utilizer of this information agrees to use this information AT HIS OR HER OWN RISK TO HIS OR HER OWN PUP(S)/DOG(S), with the full and total understanding that babesia is a lethal disease which can and will kill some dogs irrespective of what kind of treatment the pup (dog) receives, or from whom. By reading, and/or using the material contained herein, the purchaser, reader, or user of this information fully understands the above and again agrees to utilize this information AT HIS OR HER OWN RISK TO HIS OR HER OWN PET.
Babesia is often called "doggy AIDS", but this is not an accurate statement. AIDS is a virus that destroys the body's immune system and ability to fight off infection. Babesia is a protozoan blood parasite that destroys red blood cells. It can be in chronic form (a long, mildly debilitating disease, where your dog always seems a little bit off), or it can take an acute form (where it hits your dog over the head like a ton of bricks, bringing him from normal to death's door in a matter of days). Many dogs suffer from chronic babesia without our knowing about it. For every dog that gets the acute form, there are probably 20 dogs who have a mild, chronic case. This article addresses the acute form, where your dog's life is suddenly hanging by a string.
SIGNS TO LOOK FOR:
Again, babesia is a blood parasite. It is generally transported through the bites of ticks, biting flies, etc., but IT CAN ALSO BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH ACCIDENTAL FIGHTING CONTACT. About 10 days to 3 weeks will pass before any symptoms crop up from exposure, because the disease takes about that long to multiply and spread. The beginning of trouble starts when the disease gets to a point where it is eating more red blood cells than your dog's body can manufacture. At this time, a dog will stop eating and drinking. His tongue and gums will become pale as his red blood cells are being destroyed by the disease faster than they can be replaced. If you value the life of your dog, you will act immediately if any of these stages occur and get him to your vet. However, be careful because this disease is often misdiagnosed as Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. When a vet says your dog has autoimmune hemolytic anemia, what he is really saying is "I have no idea of why your dog is losing his red blood cells," and simply can't recognize babesia for what it is. Now if a dog can survive the first month, he will recover from this disease - but will now be a carrier - and he can also suffer a relapse and get it full blown again and die later. It takes a competent vet to recognize babesia, and you should therefore specifically ask for a babesia test to be done if your dog seems to be losing red blood cells for no explicable reason. There are two strains of babesia that affect dogs: 1) babesia canis and 2) babesi gibsoni. You need your vet to tell you which of the two strains he has, because it matters in how you treat your dog. The canis version can be cured with injections of Imizol, which can also prevent infection. Gibsoni is the more resistant strain and requires the use of a drug called Berenil. The following recipe was listed as proper treatment for gibsoni by High Tech Kennels in The Sporting Dog Journal:
When your dog recovers, give him/her a minimum of 3 months total rest. Get him plump and healthy, with plenty of good food, vitamins, clean water, and no stress. Stress can cause a relapse. With babesia, if the dog can survive the first month, he will recover - but will now be a carrier. If you want to breed your babesia dog give the OTHER dog a shot of Imizol first, which will act as a vaccine and prevent infection. Give a copy of this to your vet so he is conversant on what to do for this exotic disease. Treating a dog's symptoms through a blood transfusion may stabilize him, but unless you address the PROBLEM, the disease will NOT be knocked into remission.
Remember, many, many dogs have babesia but we don't know it. Any thin, anemic dog with pale gums should be a suspect, if he is wormed out good with Panacur but remains thin and anemic.
The above is solid info provided by High Tech Kennels, edited by me, but if you try any of the recommendations here you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK. I make no warranties or claims here. You can also call Dr. Adam Birkenheuer at the University of North Carolina at (919) 513-6357 for the most up-to-date information.
Hope this helps,
Taken from the website of VISE-GRIP KENNEL: http://www.angelfire.com/ca7/CaliforniaJacksDogs/
Last Updated: June 25, 2002