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What are Leishmaniasis?

While a tropical holiday with Fido included may sound like a fantastic idea, you may want to think twice before booking his passport. Leishmaniosis is a parasitic disease that thrives in the warm, tropical climates of places like Portugal, Greece, Brazil, and more. It is thought to be contracted through sandflies of the Phlebotomus species.

Humans and dogs can contract this disease, but dogs are the more common receptors. It can be contracted by two or more dogs through sniffing or ingesting, but it is mostly contracted in the womb or through infected blood. Without treatment, your dog can rapidly deteriorate in health and even die.

Canine Leishmaniosis is a parasitic disorder contracted from Leishmania infantum in mostly Mediterranean and South American areas through sand flies. It is also becoming increasingly prevalent in Foxhound breeds. Leishmania infantum is quite a scary experience for any pet and can be deadly without treatment. If you are considering taking your pet on holiday, make sure that you take necessary precautions. Be active if your dog starts showing clinical signs, as time is of the essence.

Leishmaniasis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$7,500

Symptoms of Leishmaniasis in Dogs

Because most cases are developed in the womb, symptoms are not very prevalent. It can take anywhere between three weeks to seven years for clinical symptoms of leishmaniosis to show. If a dog’s immune system is strong, it is likely they will never even show symptoms. However, once the immune system fails, your pet will become more and more sick.

The most important signs to be on the lookout for include:

  • Skin lesions - particularly near the head and pressure points

  • Lymphadenopathy - Swollen lymph nodes
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Abnormal nails
  • Epitaxis
  • Renal disease symptoms
  • Anaemia

Renal disease is the signs of serious infection. Once your dog’s health has declined to that point, the prognosis is very poor. If you believe your dog to be a carrier, or even if you catch the symptoms early, it is possible your pet will recover.

Types

There is only one known type of leishmaniosis and that is Leishmania infantum. It is also called visceral leishmaniosis. This disease affects mostly dogs in tropical locations, but it has been increasingly noticed in the Foxhound breeds. No one knows why this happens in this one particular breed, but it is thought because they work in swampy or wooded areas, near other animals that could be carriers. There has also been an endemic in the United States in places such as Oklahoma and other southeastern states.

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Causes of Leishmaniasis in Dogs

Leishmaniosis is contracted through sniffing and ingesting, like many other parasitic diseases. The cysts of the parasite enter the body of the carrier through food, soil, feces, or infected water. Once in the body, the parasite slowly completes its lifecycle in the tissues, skin, and bones of the host. The host will then pass the new cysts on through feces, and the cycle begins all over again when a new host picks it up again.

It is also passed on to unborn puppies if the mother is a host. Another possible way of transmission is through eating or ingesting the blood of an infected animal. Usually, a dog will pick it up by only being in a place where the disease is endemic.

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Diagnosis of Leishmaniasis in Dogs

Similar to other parasitic diseases, your veterinarian will do a series of tests to diagnose leishmaniosis. There are three effective routes of diagnosing your pet. The first is through samples from smears or biopsies. They will observe the tissue samples taken from your dog to see if the parasite is living there. This can be tricky as there won’t be many organisms present in all places. They call also test bone marrow, skin, or lymph nodes.

The second method is through an antibody test. This test will be done through the ELISA procedure, which is just a way to measure levels of antibodies. If your dog’s antibodies are high, that means it has an infection. In this case, high antibodies mean the presence of leishmaniosis.

The last and most effective and commonly used method is the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. The PCR test is the best to use because specialists can look directly at your pet’s DNA and see that there is a change to it, therefore indicating a disease. Parasites infecting an animal’s tissues or cells will alter the DNA in certain places, so veterinarians can see the change and know exactly what the disease is.

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Treatment of Leishmaniasis in Dogs

There are two options when it comes to treating leishmaniosis. The first is a combination of meglumine antimonite and allopurinol - two intense, anti-parasite medicines. This will be taken every day for 28 days, and then the dog will take only allopurinol for anywhere between 6-12 months.

The second option is miltefosine and allopurinol for 28 days, followed by only allopurinol for another 6-12 months. The prescription will depend on the progressiveness of the disease. The stronger the disease has gotten; the more medicines they will have to take. Pets may also have to take antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and malassezia treatment, which is a treatment for the skin lesions they have.

Also adding to the long list of treatments, pets who are starting to have renal disease or failure may have to have additional medicines to support them through that.

What makes this even more complicated is that because leishmaniosis is usually only found in tropical locations, your veterinarian may have to get a special drug license to order the needed medicines to the United States or Canada.

There is no complete cure for leishmaniosis, however after a year of treatment, your pet may not show symptoms anymore and may be able to stop treatment.

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Recovery of Leishmaniasis in Dogs

If caught in time, most dogs will show improvement within the first month. Symptoms will subside in a few weeks noticeably with the treatment. The worse state your pet is in, the longer it will take to recover.

Your pet will have to go in for regular monitoring check-ups at specific points. They will most likely be at one month after treatment, followed by four, six, and a year. Once your pet has made it a year without symptoms and has had positive results from treatment, you will reduce your visits to once or twice a year. They will also be able to stop taking the medication allopurinol if their body functions are normal.

There is a vaccine in the United Kingdom that, while it doesn’t prevent the contraction of leishmaniosis, it helps reduce the risk of developing the clinical signs of the disease. Other forms of prevention include using sandfly repellant and keeping your pets indoors when sand flies are active. This is usually in the months of May to October and around the times of 7 p.m to 7 a.m

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Leishmaniasis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$7,500

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Leishmaniasis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Gari

dog-breed-icon

Mixed

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Eating Bad

Hi, My dog named Gari is 5 years old, we took him from the street when he was 2 months old. We dont know his breed but we think that he have part of staford and black labrador and some others.. he is 27 kg.. 2 years ago he was diagnosed with Leish, he took therapy 28 days with Alopurinol and some othes meds, but we kept to give him every day alopurinol for these 2 years to keep his kidneys good, because they were not affect with Leish in that time, the test was good for kidneys. and he was great! he recovered very fast and he was so good until now. He started eating bad, and loose some weight, and he is peeing its strange, he pees a lot short streams. Today I got the test results and they are bad- UREA is 35.3 (it should be 2.5-8.9) and KREATININ 587 (it should be 44-124) ALT 68 ( should be 15-58) We all love him so much! he is equal member of the family, and we would do anything for him to get better. If you have any advice I would be so thankful! Thanks, Radovan

Aug. 11, 2018

Gari's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is important to know what is causing the the increased BUN, creatinine and ALT; the ALT is the odd one out here as this is a more liver specific enzyme and normally we would expect to see other liver enzymes elevated too (very small amounts of ALT are found in the kidney). Further investigation is needed and I cannot say what the specific cause is. Allopurinol has been used safely long term in dogs recovering from Leishmaniasis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9673902

Aug. 11, 2018

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Bear

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Vizsla

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Lame

I have a vizsla, adopted from Budapest, now living in England. She is a healthy happy 5 year old dog of 30kg. She has a lame front carpus, with deterioration of joint indicated by CT. Tissue sample from joint indicates protozoa with a query of leish. She has had a negative blood test for leish and a negative anti-body test for leish. Her routine bloods all show normal. I am awaiting DNA results. No bacteria has grown from joint cytology samples. Have you heard of cases of leish that are restricted to one joint? Given the test results would you still be considering leish? To note, leish is not prevalent in UK or Hungary.

July 5, 2018

Bear's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Typically Leishmaniasis in Europe is located to the Mediterranean with countries like Hungary and the UK being considered free, however the UK does see some cases in imported dogs from time to time; we have seen in recent years especially in Europe the migration north of some vector borne diseases. In recent years there have been some reports of dogs infected with Leishmaniasis in Hungary which are native to Hungary (see articles below); whilst uncommon, it may occur. Leishmaniasis seems possible, but I cannot be sure especially since all testing has come back negative. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.researchgate.net/publication/225046142_First_Record_of_Autochthonous_Canine_Leishmaniasis_in_Hungary www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3974411/

July 6, 2018

I have a dog diagnosed with Leish who is currently in remission. If you have a facebook account, send a request to a group called 'Living with Leish' There you will find fact sheets, be able to get advice from experienced owners, and support from other Leish dog owners. This group has been invaluable to me and my dog. Having a supportive vet who is willing to learn also helps !!

July 14, 2018

Karen A.


Thank you. DNA test have also returned negative but my vet still is fixated on it being leish! Are there any further tests to prove she doesn’t have it? In the meantime of course, she remains as lame now as she was 6 months ago 😒

July 6, 2018

Bear's Owner

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Serpiniac

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Large mutt

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss, After Abandonment

A newly formed group in Montenegro, mainly forcusing on a spay/neuter program for Kotor's Kitties, has taken in a rescue dog that was abandoned by owner in the boonies. Reported alone and hungry for a while, but not leaving the drop off spot. Vet gave a SNAP 4-D test. He is underweight, but based on that single symptom and the test results was diagnosed as positive for Leishmaniosis. Is there a quick way to confirm this diagnosis before beginning tx? Lack of local foster or kennel care makes it imperative that we quickly move him to an out-of-area rescue if he truly is infected, so it's either a quick test or immediately beginning treatment and moving him.

July 3, 2018

Serpiniac's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

SNAP tests are a great point of care test since they have over a 99% specificity; however other tests may include PCR tests, cytology (from lymph nodes, bone marrow etc… but may be false negative) among others. You need to see what is available there for testing, contact some local clinics and the state veterinary laboratory if you have concerns. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.idexx.co.uk/en-gb/veterinary/snap-tests/snap-leishmania/ www.msdvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/leishmaniosis/overview-of-leishmaniosis

July 4, 2018

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Mr. B

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mongrel

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Leishmaniasis

Hi, my dod Mr. B was diagnosed with Leishmaniasis a few weeks back. He was given Allopurinol and Milteforan for 28 days. After treatment I didn't notice any improvment, in fact, he seemed worse. However the blood works showed that his PCV level went from 18% to 24% and his antibodies level was slightly lower. He was given liquid anti-inflammatoty painkillers to help with his joint pain and now he's happy and lively dog but all thanks to the painkillers. The vet suggested to put him on another course of Milteforan but I came across a clinical study that confirms that meglumine antimoniate is more effective than Milteforan but the side effects seems to be a lot more severe with this drug. From your experience which medication is more effective? Thanks

June 29, 2018

Mr. B's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Treatment of Leishmaniasis is typically done with methylglucamine antimoniate, however this medication is not approved for use in dogs in many countries although some Veterinarians will use it regardless. You should remember that dogs may remain carriers of Leishmaniasis after resolution of symptoms and symptoms may return in some cases. Speak with your Veterinarian about the use and availability of methylglucamine antimoniate in your country. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 30, 2018

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Gotham

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French Bulldog

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Itching
Coughing
Loss Of Balance
Skin Loss
Loss Of Appetite
Fur Loss

My French Bulldog was diagnosed with Leishmanisis on tuesday 26/6/18. We took him to the vets as we had been advised in the past that he had allergies from another vet, and he was being treated for allergies from that vet with antibiotics for a week and his symptoms got better. It turns out his Leishmanisis has stopped his immune system from working, and about three days before we took him to the vets, his "allergies" broke out very badly, worse than we have ever seen him. We are due to be starting injections in the next week to try and give him some immune system back. We adopted him two months ago and they said that included in the adoption fee was a test for Leishmanisis, and from what I understand it usually takes up to 2 months for the symptoms to show, and he was skinny, and had symptoms of bad allergies when we got him. What do we do in terms of this? Because if our dog wasn't tested, chances are none of them have, and the adoption center will not reply to any messages or answer any calls from us. I guess really, what I want to know is if he has a good chance at starting to fight the parasite if the injections work and what kind of diet you would recommend? This came as a shock and we just want to make sure we give him the best we can to ensure he lives happily.

June 28, 2018

Gotham's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

There isn't a specific diet needed for this disease, and at this point, getting Gotham to eat is more important than what he eats . There are multiple medications that he may need to be on, and the medications may need to be continued for an extended period of time. If he is not showing signs of kidney disease, he may be able to recover with ongoing treatment.

June 28, 2018

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Hearty

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podenco terrier mix

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain In Joint Or Bone

Our dog has Leishmania for 7 years now ( we live in Spain). With treatment he is relatively symptom free, the parasite count went down a lot. But it seems he has more and more pain in 1 leg. His gait becomes less balanced and he often sits in strange leg-avoiding poses. He loves to run and be active but clearly overdoes himself. Can it occur in one leg only? there is nothing visible on xrays. Is there anything we can do to relief the pain symptoms?

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Otter

dog-breed-icon

Mixed

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Underweight With One Lesion

Hello, I am about to adopt a dog from Greece who is under going treatment for Leish. I have a cat and just wanted to know what is the likelihood of my new dog passing this on to my cat? I've read that the chances are extremely low in most cases, but it would be good to know for sure. Many thanks.

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Ruby

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Daschund

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sore Front Paw Pads Lesions

I have a miniature wire haired daschund who travels to Spain with us every year for the Summer. She will be 9 in August. We have had her vaccinated every year against Leish since she was born. However, in March we noticed lesions on one of her front paw pads and after a couple of weeks the other front paw pad had a small lesion. She was put on antibiotics (Nicotinamide and Oxycare) and her pads have now been bandaged for 2 months - the lesions are very nearly healed as we have visited the vet twice a week for new bandages every time and kept the bandages from getting wet. She was diagnosed with Leish and she is now on Milteforan and Allopurinol as well as the antibiotics. She remains her usual self - full of energy and eating very well (we give her a mixed and varied diet to get all the drugs into her!). We remain optimistic and the vet is hopeful she will just be on Allopurinol after all her tests show the treatment has worked. But it is a great worry - she is the light of our life! Caroline (and Ruby the taxi)

Leishmaniasis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $18,000

Average Cost

$7,500

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