Category: News


Why are we worried?
Recently, it has been reported that Babesia has been diagnosed in four dogs in Essex, which has caused a great deal of concern. This condition is common in some other countries – notably southern Europe but is not normally seen in the UK. Previous cases have been seen in dogs that have travelled in Europe, but the disease has not been spread within the UK before, as far as we know. In this case, what is really worrying is that the affected dogs have not travelled outside the UK, or been in contact with dogs that have travelled. The common factor appears to be exercise within a certain area of Harlow, suggesting that infected ticks are in that area. In time it seems likely that the ticks that carry this disease will become more widespread and that Babesia may become a more common problem in the UK.

What is it?
Babesia is a single celled malaria like organism which is transmitted by a tick, causing damage to the dog’s red blood cells, resulting in symptoms of fever, pale or jaundiced (yellowy) gums and darkened urine together with lethargy, weakness, breathlessness, collapse and anaemia. Vomiting can also be seen as well as mouth ulcers, swelling of the head and legs, and nerve related symptoms such as wobbliness and even fitting. If untreated the condition can be fatal; successful treatment can involve medication, IV fluids, and even blood transfusions. Early treatment can be successful, but young and elderly dogs are particularly vulnerable.

Can it affect me or my cat?
Infection of humans is not normally reported, but people who are immunosuppressed should be particularly careful, and vigilant to check they do not get tick bites. Cats are also not normally affected by dog babesia, but a similar condition exists in cats in Africa caused by a slightly different organism.

What can I do?
Firstly it would make sense to avoid exercising dogs in the area in Harlow where the affected dogs had exercised as infected ticks may be present there. Using an anti-parasitic product regularly to prevent tick bites is very important. It is advisable to choose a product that repels ticks as well as killing them (which hopefully means that they don’t get to bite at all and should therefore prevent the transmission of any infection). We are recommending Vectra which both repels and kills ticks ( it is a spot-on product which needs to be repeated every 4 weeks) or Bravecto which kills ticks within 12 hours (it is a tablet which lasts 3 months) . We would also recommend thorough grooming after walks to remove any ticks before they attach. If you do find a tick you will need to remove it using a tick hook.

Any signs of disease should be checked out promptly at the vets – please get in touch if you have any queries or concerns.

Parvovirus – is your puppy at risk?

Canine Parvovirus disease (CPV)
Canine parvovirus is a small, but extremely hardy virus that can survive in the environment for long periods of time – months or even years.
The disease first emerged as an epidemic in the 1970s, killing thousands of dogs before an effective vaccine became available. Although no longer present in epidemic proportions, parvovirus is still relatively common in unvaccinated dogs, and veterinary surgeons throughout the country regularly report outbreaks of the disease. Therefore, protecting your dog through vaccination is vitally important.

Who is at risk?
All unvaccinated animals, particularly those in high-risk areas and young puppies, are at risk. Parvovirus causes enteritis (inflammation of the intestines causing vomiting and diarrhoea), it is seen in any age of dog from about four weeks of age, but most commonly in dogs less than one year old.

How is it spread?
The main source of infection is the faeces of infected dogs; the virus can also spread on shoes and clothing and on the coat and pads of dogs.

Cause of canine parvovirus
The cause of canine parvovirus disease is a highly contagious DNA-containing virus. There are currently several types in the UK, namely CPV-2, CPV-2a, CPV-2b and CPV-2c. The virus is transmitted through the mouth or nose from faeces. CPV can be passed out in the faeces of a dog within 3-4 days after infection and before clinical signs are seen.
Canine parvovirus affects all breeds of domesticated dog, as well as wild dogs (including bush-dogs, coyotes, maned wolves) and the virus may also be transmitted to cats, ferrets and mink.

Signs and symptoms
The incubation period of CPV is generally 4-7 days. Individuals normally have severe enteritis, however occasionally animals may only have mild symptoms.
Signs usually consist of depression, severe vomiting, refusal of food and water, abdominal pain and profuse smelly, bloody diarrhoea. This can result in rapid and severe dehydration, and ultimately death.

Prevention and control
There is no specific treatment for canine parvovirus, so it is important to ensure that your dog is vaccinated in both puppyhood and adult life. Some of the vaccines on the market reduce clinical signs and mortality due to parvovirus, but they do not prevent shedding after infection occurs – this means the animal will still excrete the virus into the environment. Unfortunately, canine parvovirus is very stable in the environment, so any animal which sheds the virus not only contaminates the environment, but poses a risk to other animals as well.

You’ll be pleased to know that some vaccines use a special strain (called C154) that sets the standard in terms of protection against canine parvovirus. It has proven protection against UK types of virus (CPV-2, 2a, 2b and 2c) and offers a duration of immunity of three years. This means your dog is protected for a full three years against parvovirus.

Vaccination is the only proven method of preventing canine parvovirus infection. Whilst the vaccines used are highly effective, it is the case (as is also true in human vaccines) that efficacy is never 100%. Hence on rare occasions a pup may not respond adequately to its puppy vaccine course and potentially be at risk. It is possible to minimise this small risk further by giving an additional vaccine at sixteen weeks. Alternatively, a blood test can be undertaken to see if a pup has adequately responded to its vaccines. Given the very high protection offered by the vaccine, we do not as standard recommend a later vaccine or blood test as in the vast majority of dogs it is not necessary.

It is also important, particularly in an area where an outbreak has occurred, to maintain good hygiene. Although there are a limited number of disinfectants effective against CPV, standard practices such as handwashing, picking up after your dog and avoiding contact with faeces out on walks will help reduce transmission. Avoid contact with unvaccinated dogs and puppies.

Please ask us if you have any further questions.


‘Scientists from the British Pest Control Association are predicting an ‘explosion’ of flea activity in UK homes over the next few weeks, as the temperature and humidity rates are set to reach the ideal climate for fleas to awaken and breed’ report the Daily Mail.

Flea numbers have increased over the last few years due to the milder winters, and the warm summer months give fleas the ideal conditions to emerge from their dormant state and start biting your pets (and even you). Up to 95% of a flea infestation exists in immature stages in our carpets and furnishings. They can stay dormant for a long time as eggs, larvae or pupae, and are waiting for the presence of a host (dog, cat or human) and higher temperatures to hatch. Fleas mature in 18 days and under the right conditions one flea can turn into 125,000 within 8 weeks.

Not only are they prolific breeders but they can bite a pet or human up to 400 times and can drink up to 15 times their bodyweight in a single day. A pretty miserable prospect for any pet that has fleas!
Not only can fleas make life uncomfortable for our pets but they can cause allergies, carry tapeworm eggs and, in severe cases, cause anaemia.

So how can we stop these pesky creatures from taking hold on our pets and in our homes?
Treat your pet with an effective medication. Monthly spot-on treatments are the most commonly used method of controlling fleas on our pets. However, there is a relatively new product on the market, a tablet which kills fleas very quickly and, therefore, reduces the number of bites a flea can give before it dies. Veterinary prescription products are much more effective than over-the-counter medications. Vets are given the most up to date technology to fight common diseases and parasites.

Treat the environment with a larvicidal spray. These sprays will stop eggs from hatching and reinfecting our pets. The most effective products will last 1 year and prove invaluable in our fight against the flea!

So lets work together and stop our cats and dogs having a miserable summer. Call the practice for advice or arrange a free Flea Health Check with one of our nurses.