Pet Education

Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Canine Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a disease that causes a skin infection and/or an organ infection. It is fatal if left untreated.

CAUSES:

Leishmaniasis is caused by a one-celled parasite, spread by the sand-fly.

Sand-flies absorb leishmania when they bite an infected dog, and pass on the parasite when they bite another dog.

Humans can also get infected with Leishmaniasis, but not from a dog.

SIGNS:

Organ infection:

Skin infection:

If you notice any of the above signs, go to your veterinarian immediately, as this may lead to an enlarged spleen, kidney failure, and eventually death.

DIAGNOSIS:

Your veterinarian will suspect leishmaniasis if you have recently traveled to or live in an infested area, and may perform:

TREATMENT:

If your veterinarian finds a positive diagnosis for canine leishmaniasis, treatment may include:

The treatment only reduces the immediate danger. The parasite stays in other organs, so relapses are common. Your dog will also be a life-long source of leishmaniasis for other dogs.

You must monitor your dog carefully and follow up with your veterinarian.

PREVENTION:

If you live in an infested area, do not let your dog outside in the evening, because sand-flies are up at night.

There are also sprays available that kill insects.

PROGNOSIS:

Most dogs with leishmaniasis will die from kidney failure.

If your dog is diagnosed and treated in the early stages of the disease, the prognosis is better.

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