Biliary in dogs

Part of responsible pet ownership is ensuring our pets are parasite free at all times. Nasty little insects can cause serious health issues in pets that could become fatal if not treated quickly. Otherwise known as ‘tick bite fever’, biliary is a common and life-threatening, tick-borne disease which too many dogs, cats, horses, and livestock suffer with in South Africa and other countries. Our climate is a breeding ground for these pests and so owners should follow every measure possible to prevent them from latching on to our pets.

A blood parasite called Babesia Canis is transmitted into the dog’s (or other animal’s) bloodstream through a tick bite. Here it invades and multiplies in the red blood cells causing havoc including severe anemia. This fatal disease kills thousands of dogs in South Africa every year.4

Ticks that cause Biliary

All ticks should be avoided and removed from dogs and other pets. However, the Brown Kennel Tick and the Yellow Dog Tick are known to be the ones that carry the parasite.2

Biliary symptoms

While ticks are not always easy to spot on dogs, especially those with long, thick fur, you may notice some of the symptoms below which will indicate that your dog might be infected.

Anaemia (presented by pale or white gums)




Jaundice (seen with yellow discolouring of the eyes, gums or skin)

Abnormal, dark or red-coloured urine

Loss of appetite

It is of utmost importance to get your dog to a vet as soon as any of these signs start to show. If left untreated, the dog may die in a matter of days, or suffer from long term damage to the kidneys or liver.4 The vet will do a blood analysis and if detected, initiate treatment.

Preventing Biliary

Tick treatment and prevention is the only way to ensure your pet does not get bitten and infected. Vet endorsed products work best. Speak to your vet about the best measures for your dog’s specific breed, weight and age. Some examples are:

  • Tick and flea shampoo
  • Regularly brush and check your dog for ticks. Run your fingers through their fur revealing the skin where the ticks would be. Focus on the ears, neck, armpits, tummy and bum area.
  • Maintain a good tick and flea programme all year round as recommended by your vet, whether it be a spot-on treatment, dip, or chewable tablets.
  • Keep the grass where your dog’s stay short and check for ticks after long walks at the park or other outings.
  • Wash the dogs bedding regularly as ticks can survive a while without having latched onto an animal.
  • If you own or your dog interacts with other animals, ensure these are tick-free too as a tick can infect more than one animal in its lifetime.

Supportive take-home care

Once your dog has been discharged from hospital, you may like to provide supportive care to help them bounce back quicker to their normal self. In this case, the liver and kidneys need all the help they can get. These organs are responsible for eliminating the destroyed red blood cells from the body.3 We recommend the following:

A.Vogel Boldocynara: A herbal tonic which supports the normal functioning of the liver. A medium size dog should get 5 drops diluted in a little water twice daily. Available from all pharmacies in South Africa.

A.Vogel Nephrosolid: A herbal tonic which aids in the normal functioning of the kidneys. A medium size dog should get 5 drops diluted in a little water twice daily. Available from all pharmacies in South Africa.

Anima-Strath: A Swiss made, 100% natural immune enhancer which promotes quick recovery in pets which have undergone physiological stress and/or illness. To read how Anima-Strath helped rescue dog, Bill, click here.


  1. 2022. Biliary in Dogs – Germiston Veterinary Hospital. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2022].
  2. Pet Health Care. 2022. Biliary in dogs: understanding tickbite fever & symptoms of biliary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2022].
  3. 2022. Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic Canine Biliary Info. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 April 2022].
  4. Tips, D. and Biliary, W., 2022. What is Biliary « Cape Province Dog Club. [online] Available at: