What Are The Early Signs Of Leishmaniasis In Dogs? Things you need to watch out for.

What Are The Early Signs Of Leishmaniasis In Dogs? Photo by Alexandru Rotariu: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photography-of-adult-black-and-white-short-coat-dog-733416/

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that affects the skin, eyes, and other organs. It's caused by tiny parasites called Leishmania. It can be transmitted to humans through animal bites or sandfly bites.

Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Leishmania. It can be transmitted to your dog through the bite of an infected sandfly or other insects or through the consumption of infected food or water. The disease causes severe sores on your pet's skin and mucous membranes in their nose, mouth, and throat.

What Are The Symptoms Of Leishmania Infection?

Leishmania is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be transmitted from one animal to another. The most common transmission route is via an infected sandfly's bite. However, dogs are also susceptible to getting leishmaniasis by eating infected rodents or other small mammals.

Once your dog has been bitten by an infected sandfly and becomes infected with Leishmania parasites, he may develop symptoms within a few weeks or months; this depends on the type of parasite he’s carrying and where it has entered his body through a cut or insect bite wound. Common symptoms in dogs include fever, lethargy, weight loss, and anemia (low red blood cell count). Your dog may also develop skin ulcers; these form when the parasites have burrowed into their bodies or have difficulty breathing due to pulmonary enlargement (a condition that causes your pet’s lungs to fill up with fluid).

How Is Leishmaniasis Transmitted?

In rare cases, leishmaniasis can be transmitted to humans. If a human is bitten by an infected sandfly, they may develop sores and ulcers on their skin that resemble those seen in dogs with leishmaniasis. However, it’s important to note that these symptoms are not specific to leishmaniasis or any other disease; they are simply the result of being bitten by an ectoparasite such as a sandfly.

Leishmaniasis is not contagious between people and dogs or between dogs themselves. It cannot be passed from one species to another via contact or dog beds or bodily fluids like blood or saliva.

How Do Vets Diagnose Leishmaniasis In Dogs?

When your vet suspects leishmaniasis, he or she may perform some of the following tests:

  • Blood tests: Blood samples will be taken to check for signs of infection and organ damage.

  • Skin biopsy: A small sample of skin is removed, examined under a microscope, and stained to highlight any parasites that are present.

  • X-rays. These can show changes in the bones caused by leishmaniasis, but they aren't always accurate or necessary when diagnosing this condition. They're usually only used when other tests come back inconclusive or negative.

  • Ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to create an image of your dog's organs inside their body cavity; it's similar to an ultrasound used on humans during pregnancy scans or abdominal exams but adapted for use on animals instead.

  • Liver function tests (LFTs): These measure liver enzymes in the blood that indicate damage from certain diseases. If LFTs show abnormally high levels of these enzymes without another known cause, then it may be an early sign that something more serious is going on with your pooch's liver health.

  • Liver biopsy: In rare cases where there isn't enough information available through other methods like bloodwork, etcetera (or perhaps when those results aren't coming back positive despite being suspicious), vets might decide upon performing this procedure which involves removing small pieces from different parts within the organ itself so they can analyze them under microscopes afterward.

What Is The Treatment For Leishmania In Dogs?

The treatment for leishmaniasis in dogs is generally not as severe as it is for humans. For example, if your dog exhibits symptoms such as fever, anemia, and skin lesions, you can treat him with pet medicines, corticosteroids like Prednisone for dogs, or antibiotics for dogs to reduce inflammation. However, some drugs can cause side effects such as bone marrow suppression (which decreases red blood cell production), so it's important to discuss the risk of this side effect with your vet before giving your pet medication.

The prognosis for dogs with Leishmania depends on how severe their infection is and whether they've contracted one of the more serious forms of Leishmania, such as visceral leishmaniasis (VL). VL causes damage to organs like the liver and spleen; if left untreated, it can be fatal within a few weeks of infection.


Although leishmaniasis is a serious condition that can lead to death, it’s important to remember that many dogs with leishmaniasis are still able to live long and healthy lives. If you notice any of the signs or symptoms listed above, we recommend talking with your vet right away. They will be able to diagnose your pet quickly and provide treatment options that may include pet meds or surgery depending on where in their body the infection has spread.

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