Holiday season is finally here, which is a source of great excitement for many! But for those of us planning on taking our dogs abroad, diseases like Leishmaniasis can well and truly spoil the fun, as well as putting our dog’s lives at risk.

What is it?

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease transmitted by small biting sand flies. The disease takes two forms: cutaneous (affecting the skin) and visceral (affecting the organs). Nearly all infected dogs will develop the visceral form of the disease, but may show some cutaneous signals.

What are the symptoms?

Due to the incubation period for this disease being anything from a couple of months to several years, it can sometimes take a long time to diagnose. Clinical signs may include fever, loss of appetite and therefore weight loss, weakness, diarrhoea and vomiting, nosebleeds and blood in the stool. Kidney failure is typically the leading cause of death. Swollen lympth nodes are also present in a number of cases.

Is it treatable?

If diagnosed before the dog becomes chronically infected and emaciated, it can be managed with the right veterinary care. A high protein diet plus medication can help keep the infection at bay, although there is a high chance of recurrence as it never fully goes away.

How can infection be prevented?

The risk of infection in the UK is low as Leishmania-transmitting sand flies are not found. However, they are abundant in other parts of the world, including Europe, America and Mexico. It is believed that as many as 80% of dogs are infected in the South of France. Therefore, if you take your dog abroad, the risk of them contracting Leishmaniasis is high. If they are bitten by an infected sand fly, they will develop the disease but it may not rear its head and show clinical signs for several years.

Prevention is easier than cure.

Scalibor Collars contain the potent insecticide deltamethrin, which is primarily used to prevent ticks, sand flies and mosquitoes. Using one is the most effective way of preventing dogs from acquiring diseases such as Leishmaniasis, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis and heartworm disease when abroad.

Written by: Hannah