Leishmaniasis in dogs – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Leishmaniasis is the medical term used to refer to the clinical condition caused by the parasitic protozoan Leishmania. The condition is endemic to certain regions of the world that include Portugal, Spain, and the Mediterranean basin. Some cases of Leishmaniasis in dogs have been reported in France, Switzerland and the Netherlands as we as Central and South America and southern Mexico.
Dogs with Leishmaniasis in the United States have been reported to have come from the places described above. However, Oklahoma and Ohio reported endemic cases.
What causes Leishmaniasis in Dogs?
The flagellated parasite is transmitted via sandflies. When the sandfly passes on the protozoan, the dog acquires an infection. After that, the incubation period could last from a month to a year. When it finally develops, it will spread throughout the dog’s body.
The disease makes no discrimination of age, gender, or size in dogs. Endemic cases of the disease are considered to belong to foxhounds in the United States. But German Shepherds, Cocker spaniels, and Boxers are at risk of acquiring the disease as well.
What are the symptoms of Leishmaniasis in dogs?
Leishmaniasis in dogs takes two types: a skin reaction and a visceral reaction. The visceral reaction includes the kidneys, spleen, liver, eyes, and joints. About 90% of the infected dogs will develop a skin reaction, which will include lesions and hair loss.
These are some symptoms for visceral leishmaniasis:
- Reluctance to go out for a walk or exercise
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
The most common symptoms for cutaneous leishmaniasis are:
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Nodules on the skin surface
- Hyperkeratosis (epidermal scaling)
What can I do if my dog has Leishmaniasis?
The first thing you need to do is prevent your dog from getting close to any dog that is reported to be infected or avoid regions of the world where the disease is common. This is an infectious disease, so if you find any of the symptoms in the dog, visit the veterinarian as soon as possible.
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