Chagas disease is a severe infectious disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma Cruzi, which affects many organs of the body. Let’s look at the symptoms, transmission routes, and treatment in dogs
Chagas disease is a severe condition and is often fatal, while also causing long-term problems like heart failure. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as other conditions, such as idiopathic epilepsy or irritable bowel syndrome.
With proper treatment, dogs who contract Chagas disease usually recover without complications. However, if left untreated or undiagnosed for too long, this infection can result in serious health problems and even death. The good news is that there are treatments for Chagas disease available in the United States and elsewhere.
What Is Chagas Disease?
Chagas disease is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma Cruzi. It is transmitted to dogs through the bite of the "kissing bugs," which is 55% of time infected by Trypanosoma cruzi and can be found in areas where there is poor housing construction, such as in people's homes or on their pets, for dog fleas and ticks to prosper. Therefore, it is essential to ensure flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats.
How Is Chagas Disease Spread?
The kissing bug is found in the southern US, Mexico, and Central and South America. It is also an assassin bug because it kills other insects by piercing them with proboscis and sucking out their body fluids.
The kissing bug feeds on humans and animals. If bitten by a kissing bug that has fed on an infected animal, your pet can get Chagas disease from the parasite that lives in its gut. When a female kissing bug bites your dog or another animal, she may transfer her feces into the wound as she feeds. This causes your pet’s immune system to react to the parasite inside those poops.
When this happens for the first-time during feeding, it usually causes no symptoms. But if it happens again, the pet's immune system can build up antibodies against these parasites over time so that when they are next exposed to them, their bodies will react more strongly than before.
What Are The Symptoms?
The most common symptom of Chagas disease in dogs is fever, which can also lead to heart disease. Following are some other common symptoms and how to deal with them:
? Diarrhea and vomiting can be subdued by meds like Cerenia for dogs or cats.
? Poor appetite and Weakness can be managed, but food like Purina Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach.
? Weight loss is possible, but this can also be due to other causes. If there are no other reasons for weight loss, it may be a sign of Chagas disease in dogs.
? Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and armpits (the so-called “saddlebags”)
? Jaundice, in humans, jaundice usually happens late in infection; however, dogs can have a chronic infection that doesn't show symptoms until later.
What Are The Risk Factors?
Dogs living in or visiting areas where Chagas is common are at risk for getting the disease. Dogs that a triatomine bug has bitten are also at high risk. These bugs are found in association with colonies of rodents. Dogs who eat food contaminated by feces from an infected insect such as a triatomine bug or kissing bugs.
How Can You Protect Your Dog?
You can help your dog avoid Chagas by:
? Avoiding areas where Chagas is commons
? Protecting your dog from fleas and ticks with a preventative treatment like flea collar, flea comb, flea spray, flea shampoo for dogs, etc.
? Keeping your dog indoors at night.
? Never letting him eat wild animals.
The Best Course Of Treatment
The best way to treat diseases in dogs is to prevent them. The most effective way of preventing Chagas disease is through flea and tick meds. A vaccine is recommended for dogs that travel to South and Central America, as it will help reduce their chances of contracting the disease if they are bitten by an infected insect.
Chagas disease is spread by insects, so the best way to protect your dog from this disease is by avoiding insect bites. This means keeping your dog indoors at night and using insect repellant on its skin during the day. If you find yourself with a dog who has been bitten by a bug, make sure you take them to the vet right away so they can be treated before it's too late!