Leishmaniasis in dogs: what it is, symptoms and treatment

Let’s go to the discovery of canine leishmaniasis, a disease not to be underestimated.

Leishmaniasis in dogs is an infectious disease transmitted to all fours by the bite of an insect, the pappatacio or phlebotomist, which acts as a vector of the parasite responsible for the disease, called Leishmania Infantum.

The latter lives in fact inside the insect which inoculates it then unconsciously to the animal by its sting. The pappatacio is active in Italy, especially from May to October. If, a few decades ago, it was almost exclusively interested in the regions of south-central Italy, it now appears to have spread almost everywhere, including in the north of the country, there totally cleared of the problem. because of both climate change and the increased circulation of humans and animals, which is also transmitted to humans.

The symptoms of canine leishmaniasis are different, making the diagnosis sometimes difficult and not immediate: the infection affects the dog’s immune system and may manifest itself in death, lack of appetite, weight loss, swelling and joint pain, nosebleeds, dermatological diseases (ulcers, nose depigmentation, hair loss, dermatitis), excessive nail growth, swollen lymph nodes, eye infections, kidney failure, enlarged liver and spleen .

It is precisely because of these very general symptoms that the veterinarian may not be immediately directed to the detection of leishmaniasis and may subject the dog to various tests for other diseases.

Added to this is the fact that the incubation times can be very long (from one month to seven years), so that the dog can remain very asymptomatic despite the contraction of the disease. In all cases, canine leishmaniasis is a chronic disease that causes progressive damage to the body and can lead to death.

Canine leishmaniasis: prevention

Since leishmaniasis in dogs is a disease for which there is no definitive treatment, prevention is essential. It is therefore important to use effective pest control products: there are many on the market, with the possibility of choosing between point pipettes to be applied monthly to the skin of the animal, collars to be worn by the dog generally having a quarterly validity or even more products. recently administered orally. It is always advisable to seek advice from your veterinarian to choose the best solution for your pet.

Since 2011, an anti-leishmania vaccine has also been introduced in Europe, which is not yet able to completely eliminate the risk. in fact, the percentage spread of the disease has not decreased even after the above-mentioned drug has been marketed, which means that we are still far from discovering a truly effective product.

The best prevention is always indirect prevention, including a periodic check of the dog to exclude the fact that he has contracted the disease, by simply taking a blood sample once a year, which allows him to know in ten minutes if our animal has come into contact or less with the parasite. An early diagnosis allows, in case of infection, to guarantee a better quality of life to the animal.

Another important tip is to keep the dog at home from sunset and at night: this is precisely the moment when the insect responsible for the transmission of the disease is most striking. It is no coincidence that small dogs, which are generally not used by the keeper and are not left out at night, are statistically less affected by the infection.

Dogs with leishmaniasis: care

Leishmaniasis in dogs is a condition that can not be cured, but can be treated. This means that, since the parasite can not be completely eliminated from the dog’s body, measures are taken to try to reduce as much as possible the symptoms caused by the disease, by giving appropriate treatment according to the symptom manifested.

If leishmaniasis in dogs is recognized early, in many cases it may even lead to the disappearance of symptoms even for long periods of time, thus ensuring the dog a good quality of life and extending it especially in cases where the functionality has not been compromised. kidney.

However, the disappearance of symptoms does not mean that the disease has been eradicated: in certain parts of the body, the parasite continues to live and can again manifest itself, causing a relapse that will require a new pharmacological treatment with appropriate treatments.