Dogs with babesiosis may or may not need to be hospitalized, depending upon the severity of their disease. Any attached ticks should be removed from the animal as quickly as possible. If the dog is dehydrated, supportive care will include aggressive administration of intravenous fluids. Blood transfusions, either with whole blood or packed red blood cells, may be necessary, especially if the animal is severely anemic. Certain oral medications that can potentially clear the organism from a dog’s blood stream are commercially available; they can be quite expensive. The dog’s veterinarian may recommend a course of treatment with prednisone or another steroid drug. Any medication can have adverse side effects, which owners should discuss with their dog’s veterinarian before treatment begins.
If a dog lives in a heavily tick-infested area, it may not be realistic to remove all ticks from the dog’s immediate environment. However, supportive care and anti-tick preventative treatments can improve the dog’s comfort and greatly reduce the chances of infection.
The prognosis for dogs with babesiosis is good, as long as the infection is detected and treated in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, dogs that develop severe anemia (a low red blood cell count) and/or thrombocytopenia (a low platelet count) can have a guarded to grave prognosis.