Canine leishmaniasis: what are the most common symptoms and how to identify the disease?

 Canine leishmaniasis: what are the most common symptoms and how to identify the disease?

Tracy Wilkins

Canine leishmaniasis is a serious parasitic disease that attacks the immune system of dogs. It is classified as a zoonosis, meaning it can also affect humans. Many organs and systems of the body are affected, so there are a variety of symptoms of leishmaniasis, which makes diagnosis difficult. To help you better understand this disease, which can be fatal, check out what the symptoms areof leishmaniasis and how to identify and treat a dog.

What is canine leishmaniasis?

Canine leishmaniasis is caused by the protozoa Leishmania Transmission occurs through a vector: the female straw mosquito. By biting an infected dog, the mosquito contracts the disease. Leishmania and, by biting another puppy again, the contaminated female straw mosquito infects the animal. There are some myths about canine leishmaniasis, but one fact is that there are two types of leishmaniasis: cutaneous and visceral. In dogs, most cases are of the visceral type, which has the dog as the main host. The straw mosquito lays its eggs in places with a lot of organic matter. byso where there is poor sanitation, the risk of infection is higher.

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What are the symptoms of leishmaniasis?

Symptoms of canine leishmaniasis can vary greatly. Some are the same as the symptoms of leishmaniasis in humans, such as a dog with diarrhea, weight loss and weakness. On the subject, veterinarian Ana Regina Torro explains: "In the skin disease, leishmaniasis wounds in dogs do not heal, mainly on the head and edges of the ears. They can also occur in the nose, mouth and ears.On the other hand, in canine visceral leishmaniasis, the dog may show several signs that are easily confused with other diseases.

To identify either type of canine leishmaniasis, symptoms typically include:

  • Skin lesions (mainly on the face, ears and bite site)
  • Nodules scattered around the body
  • Nail overgrowth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Slimming
  • Fever
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  • Weakness
  • Blood in the dog's stool
  • Hair loss
  • Skin desquamation
  • Eye discharge and discomfort
  • Nosebleeds
  • Loss of movement of the hind legs

As canine leishmaniasis lowers the dog's immunity, other diseases can appear more easily. Organs such as the kidneys, liver and digestive system can also be affected with more specific symptoms such as urinary tract infections, dehydration and vomiting.

Leishmaniasis can even affect the bone marrow, causing anaemia in a dog - which makes the puppy even more debilitated. In addition, the eyes of a dog with leishmaniasis can suffer from lesions on the eyelid and cornea, as well as generalized inflammation. Conjunctivitis is already a warning sign!

What are the first signs of leishmaniasis?

At first, the symptoms of canine leishmaniasis may not be so noticeable. This is because leishmaniasis is able to incubate in the body for a long time until it manifests itself. Meanwhile, the disease is reaching new organs as it progresses. It is only then that the first symptoms of leishmaniasis in dogs begin to appear, which include: fever, lack of appetite, weight loss, loss of weight, loss of hair, loss of hair, and loss of hair.In more advanced stages, the nails grow abnormally and there may be loss of movement of the hind legs.

What happens to a dog with leishmaniasis?

When the protozoan enters the dog, it begins to multiply and attacks macrophages, which are phagocytic cells of the body's defense. The main purpose of these cells is to protect the body from the entry of foreign agents. Therefore, when canine leishmaniasis attacks macrophages, the dog's immune system is weakened. This facilitates the emergence of diseases that weaken the body.animal.

What can be confused with canine leishmaniasis?

Because of the symptoms, canine leishmaniasis is often confused with other less serious conditions, such as infectious diseases, kidney diseases or even dermatitis in dogs. Other conditions that can also manifest similar clinical signs are tumors and neurological diseases.

How to identify canine leishmaniasis?

Canine leishmaniasis is very serious and early diagnosis is essential to prevent the disease from leading the pet to death. As the symptoms of canine leishmaniasis are varied, there is greater difficulty in identifying the problem. Therefore, if there is any suspicion that something is wrong it is important to do serological tests to verify the presence of the protozoan in the body. Another way to get the virus is to check for it.In this procedure, cells from an affected organ are harvested and evaluated in an attempt to find the protozoan present.

How long does the dog get leishmaniasis?

When infected with leishmaniasis, dogs do not always show signs that they are sick. The incubation time of the disease varies from months to years, depending on the patient. As it is a progressive condition, it is necessary to be aware of any physical and/or behavioral changes in the animal that may indicate leishmaniasis in dogs, and thus treat the disease.

Is there a cure for canine leishmaniasis?

Unfortunately, canine leishmaniasis has no cure. Some time ago, dogs diagnosed with the disease were put down, as they could not be cured and were a danger to other animals and humans. Today, there is still no cure, but the Ministry of Health already allows the use of drugs that reduce the damage and symptoms of leishmaniasis. The dog continues to have the protozoan alive in the body.body, but stops suffering from the health problems caused by the disease and is no longer a source of transmission.

In addition, the organs that have been affected by the disease also need specific treatment. The treatment of leishmaniasis in dogs lasts throughout life and the dog should always visit the veterinarian and undergo examinations to monitor the condition.

Can you live with a dog with leishmaniasis?

Despite being a dangerous disease, it is possible to live with a dog in these conditions. Direct contact with the animal does not harm humans, as leishmaniasis depends on the straw mosquito - vector of the disease - to be transmitted. Therefore, it is not necessary to get rid of the pet if it is sick. Euthanasia in dogs is also not recommended and does not decrease the incidence of kala-azar in humans. Bytherefore, if you suspect this dog disease, leishmaniasis should be diagnosed by a veterinarian to start treating the animal as soon as possible - something that will directly impact the patient's quality of life in the long run.

How to prevent canine leishmaniasis?

To prevent canine leishmaniasis, some measures can be taken. As the straw mosquito lives in places with a lot of organic matter, the environment must always be kept sanitized. Mosquito repellent for dogs, anti-parasitic collars and protective screens also help to scare away the mosquito. But the main form of prevention is the vaccine for dogs. From 4 months, puppies are vaccinated.There are three doses with 21-day intervals between each - the vaccine needs to be repeated every year.

Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.