Breaking up with a stereotype
Dogs with leishmaniasis can have a good, long and happy life. Assuming that all of the dogs who are positive on leishmaniasis have to suffer a lot and their life is shorter than normal life is too big of a generalization. If the dogs, in whom’s organisms the parasite of leishmaniasis has entered through a sand fly, will develop symptoms and the parasites become active, depends mainly on their immune system. Regular tests and early detection is really helpful in concluding the state of the disease. In many cases there isn’t any outbreak of the disease and with a good research about the disease, through the organization and a veterinarian who is familiar with the disease, the dogs can have a normal, happy and healthy life.
Leishmaniasis is a zoonotic disease, it requires a vector (sand fly) to spread from host to host. A direct transmission of leishmaniasis from dogs to humans or dogs to dogs through blood and saliva is only theoretically possible but never scientifically proved. However, this has been misused and misjudged by veterinarians who are not so familiar with the disease and is used to unnecessarily scare the dog owners. Many experts on this subject do believe that one infection with leishmaniasis is only possible through the sand fly. The vector is an endemic species and therefore only in the endemic countries this parasite can be transmitted from a host that doesn’t have the protection.
In the most cases, after the infection, the dogs carry the parasites but they don’t become sick. The incubation period can be from couple of months to years even up to seven years. Some of the first symptoms can be joint problems, swallowed lymph knots, hard time walking and getting up as well as limping. Typical skin deformations are the loss of the hair around the ears, eyes, mouth, sore skin, skin lesions. Other symptoms can be weight loss, loss of energy, lethargy, dandruff, long nails, bad smell, muscle atrophy.
There are in general two types of medication for the treatment. First is Allopurinol, which are inexpensive tablets from the human medicine and with some side effects. The dogs who tested positive on the disease should start with Allopurinol immediately and after some time they show results, as with the energy level of the dog and some of the symptoms retreating. The treatment with Allopurinol can last from couple of months to years or until the veterinarian decides that the parasite went to a dormant phase, relying on the blood results. Allopurinol could be again prescribed if the disease breaks out. The side effects are building crystals in the kidneys so therefore only low purine is advised.
If it is concluded by an experienced veterinarian that it is an active state, there are the treatments with Milteforan and Glucantime. Both of them have to be given with a consultation from the veterinarian. For the Glucantime injection a supervision from a veterinarian is mandatory as well with regular blood tests for the kidneys during the course which lasts normally 30 days. The Milteforan is a liquid that is given orally for a course of 28 days and is safe for the kidneys. For any of these cases, a knowledgeable veterinarian is absolutely necessary and we as an organization that have huge experience with it, are always available for any advices throughout the process.