Blood parasites are organisms that live in the blood of their animal hosts causing different pathological conditions like anaemia (low blood levels), jaundice, etc and often resulting in the death of untreated animals.
What are the different blood parasites seen in dogs?
There are different blood parasites seen in dogs. The most common ones are,
- American canine hepatozoon
How is your dog getting infected with these blood parasites?
Blood parasites of dogs are transmitted through,
- Bite of ticks
- A bite of lice, fleas, flies and mosquitoes
- Eating of ticks by dogs
- Contaminated needles
- Contaminated blood transfusion
Which dogs are more commonly affected?
Dogs which are more commonly affected by blood parasites are,
- Young dogs (below 6 months of age)
- Old dogs
- Dogs which are immunocompromised
- Dogs suffering from chronic organ dysfunction like liver or kidney.
What signs are exhibited by dogs having blood parasites?
Dogs having blood parasites may show few or all of the following signs depending upon the type of pathogen involved which ranges from mild illness to the most severe form leading to the death of the animal.
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Poor body condition
- Eye discharges
- Bloody stools
- Progressive anaemia
- Jaundice etc
Owners are advised to consult a vet immediately if they notice any of the above signs. Your vet will conduct a detailed physical examination along with blood tests to demonstrate the pathogen involved. Also, he may recommend the therapy accordingly which may include the use of appropriate antibiotics and other supports. In severe cases of anaemia, he may also recommend the blood transfusion from a healthy donor.
Are humans affected by these blood parasites?
Although it is not clear whether the disease is transmitted through dogs, some of the cases have been reported in humans with Babesia organisms. Human Babesia infections are acquired by way of bites from infected ticks or through contaminated blood transfusions.
Transmission of Trypanosomes through biting of flies, eating of contaminated food and contamination of wounds has been found in humans.
Tips to prevent the occurrence of blood parasites in dogs:
Diseases of blood parasites are best prevented by:
- Control of ticks, fleas, lice and flies by use of sprays or spot-on solutions to get rid of them (on a regular basis)
- Screening/checking the donor’s blood prior to transfusion
- Keeping up a good health and hygiene of your pet
- Providing good nutrition and a healthy environment which is less burdened with external parasites like ticks, fleas, lice, flies and mosquitoes.
A healthy pet is a happy pet
Dr. Chandrashekhar Salimath