Biliary in Dogs

26/9/2018 – GERMISTON VET

We all love our pets and we want to make sure they are healthy. With this comes the responsibility of all pet owners to look for symptoms of potentially life-threatening diseases in our pets. But what are the symptoms to look out for, what is the treatment and how can it be prevented?

Biliary is a very serious tick-borne disease. This disease affects the red blood cells of all dogs, cats, horses and livestock. Biliary is caused by a tiny blood parasite from the Babesia species.

The ticks transmit these tiny parasites through a tick-bite where they enter the bloodstream. Entering the red blood cells they continuously multiply and infect many more red blood cells. This can lead to the destruction of these cells which result in anaemia.

Clinical signs can range from acute, chronic, protracted or relapsing which can result in death if not treated immediately.

Biliary Symptoms

There are two common ticks that prey on your dog which are the yellow dog tick and the kennel tick. Both of these external parasites are major carriers of the biliary fever. Within a day, death may occur if infections are severe and no positive response is seen from treatment.

Clinical signs of infections will include:

  • Fever
  • Anaemia
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Jaundice
  • Red Urine
  • Nervous Signs

As soon as a dog is brought into a Veterinary, blood samples are drawn to test from. These blood samples are normally taken from a capillary bed such are ear tips. They are normally the richest in parasites and used for parasite identification.

Ehrlichiosis in dogs

Another tick-borne disease to be aware of is Ehrlichiosis which is transmitted through tick saliva. This parasite, unlike biliary, infects the white blood cells. These clinical signs can be acute or chronic.

Clinical signs of infection may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia and weight loss
  • Fever
  • Bleeding tendencies
  • Nervous signs
  • Anaemia
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Ocular pain

germiston vet biliary

Download our Info Graphic here


As soon as signs are recognised, your pet should be taken to your local veterinary. They will the positively identify this disease and recommend the best treatment according to the clinical signs. This will normally include a combination of products. They might also recommend post-biliary supportive treatment which can be given at home.


  • Since biliary is transmitted by tick bites, the attaching and feeding of ticks should be prevented. You can do this by avoiding tick-infested areas, using dips, spot-on products and repellents with or without acaricides.
  • When looking for any treatment be aware of the treatment regime. Some are long-lasting while others are fast acting but short-lived. You even get those who combat on-host parasite and others are for off-host parasites.
  • Many products are recommended depending on the severity of and stage of the ticks challenge. Some products treat both ticks and fleas and some just work for ticks. You also get ones that kill of ticks and then other that repel and kill them. A product that repels ticks is a good start to prevent the biliary fever.
  • When travelling with your pet precautions should also be taken. Make sure your dogs are protected against all ticks
  • The biliary fever in one dog won’t necessarily put other dogs live in danger. Blood transfers or tick bites are needed to transmit this infection.
  • NEVER use any dog treatments on cats as some

All pet owners need to look for any sudden changes in their pet’s behaviour as some signs could be symptoms of the biliary fever. As soon as these signs are noticed, call your nearest Vet to book an appointment for further diagnostics and treatment. Don’t leave it until it’s too late.

Prevention is better than cure so bring your pet into Germiston Vet or Sunnyridge Vet and we will provide you with the best advice and products to ensure your pet is covered against biliary. Call us today to book your appointment. Germiston Vet – 011 902 3507, Sunnyridge Vet – 011 828 4751.

Next week in #WBW we talk about Parvo. Stay tuned!

In other news

from the doctors desk putting your pet first

Putting your pet first

Bidding farewell to your best friend is one of the hardest things you could do. Any pet owner would know that. It really is difficult… Read More


Keep your companion warm

For the most part of May and June, we haven’t experienced very cold conditions where the temperatures dropped below freezing and stayed low throughout the day.  We’ve been feeling how the cold has settled in over South Africa at… Read More