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 skin infection and organ infection. It is fatal if left untreated.


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

Sandflies 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.


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.


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


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.


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

There are also sprays available that kill insects.


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.

Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM

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