Animal Health

Leishmaniosis is caused by Leishmania infantum, a parasite, transmitted by the bite of female sandflies (small mosquito like insects). The sandfly season is from April to November.

Canine Leishmaniosis is a zoonosis (a disease which is transmitable to humans) which is potentially fatal in dogs, present not only in Portugal, but also in other countries of the Mediterranean Basin and in other countries with similar climates.

Sandflies are small insects whose activity is mainly nocturnal, extending from dusk to dawn.

The quantity of sandflies is strongly dependent on climatic conditions: mild or high temperatures favor the development of  sandflies, humidity is also a very important factor for the development and survivalof these insects. Areas with sand, gardens and areas with litter and/or organic matter are optimal sites for the development of these sandflies.

Diagnostic tests for Leishmaniosis should be performed whenever there is a clinical indication or routinely if in endemic areas. In fact, since the disease is very frequent in Portugal, it is recommended that regular screening, preferably annually, be given to all dogs.

Early diagnosis is very important for control and treatment of the infection, as the sooner the disease is diagnosed, the less disseminated the parasite will be and the better the prognosis.

Routine screenings should be done preferably between January and March.
Leishmaniosis is a chronic disease, with very variable clinical signs: progressive apathy; intolerance to exercise; progressive hair loss; scurf; ulcers on the nose and ears; excessive nail growth; epistaxis; weight loss and muscular atrophy.

When dogs develop chronic renal failure, their general condition is greatly aggravated. At this stage, pets may present a loss of appetite, urinate very large volumes of urine and ingest a lot more water. In the later phases of this disease they may also present vomiting, and episodes of diarrhea.

Canine Leishmaniasis is fatal if left untreated.

Prevention is the most important measure for the wellbeing of the animal, since existing treatments rarely lead to the complete cure and elimination of the infection, and pets can be presented with recurrences within months to years.

Among the preventive measures are:
- Use of products that reduce sandfly bites in dogs, such as collars every 6 months or special pipettes every 4 weeks.
- Carry out annual screening for Canine Leishmaniasis, which will allow the early diagnosis of the disease and, consequently, a more effective treatment.
- Vaccination against Leishmaniasis helps greatly reduce the risk of active infection or clinical disease after exposure of the dog to L. Infantum.

- Avoid walks, especially between dusk and dawn.
- Ensure a good state of health of the animal, to protect his immune system. A good nutrition, vaccination and worming are other preventative measures that help your dog.
- All infected animals, under treatment or which have recently recovered from an episode of the disease should be protected from insect bites