What is leishmaniasis?
- It is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoa Leishmania.
- It is transmitted by a small insect called a sandfly
- It can affect both dogs and people
What are the most common symptoms?
- Hair loss, especially around the eyes, muzzle and ears
- Exfoliative dermatitis: dandruff appears and hair loses shine
- Brittle claws
- Thickening of the nose and pads
- Weight loss
- Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
- Swollen lymph glands
- Ulcers, especially in the nose
- They turn white and cloudy
It can develop more than 3 months after the infection. Sometimes it appears years later! Never try to diagnose it yourself, much less treat it!
Some dogs have the disease but have no symptoms.
If in any doubt, go to your vet!
How is it diagnosed?
The signs can raise suspicions, but tests are needed for a definitive diagnosis.
- Serology:: sea blood sample is taken to detect antibodies to Leishmania
- Biopsy:: to look for the parasite with a microscope.
How can I prevent it?
- Repellent collars: they prevent sandfly bites and protect for several months.
- Vaccination: combined with repellents, this is a very effective strategy.
The vet needs to know if you’ve been to a high-risk area with your dog (like the area of the Mediterranean basin).