About Leishmaniasis and other Endemic Conditions

Spanish Greyhound, Podenco and other Sighthound Rescue

About Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is not to be feared, instead it is to be understood, as you would with a dog with any illness, previous or current. Awareness is key in order to treat your Leishmaniasis positive dog or your Negative read dog.. who can become positive in time. With correct treatment a dog with Leishmaniasis can live a great life, but understanding a dog from a Mediterranean country is imperative to a healthy, happy life. So if you’re considering adopting either a positive Leishmaniasis dog… or Negative dog… please read and understand what could occur.

Leishmaniasis in dogs is a disease caused by the infection of a dog due to the Leishmania infantum parasite and by the response that establishes the dog against this parasitic infection. This parasite is widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean basin, but needs a particular insect, which in Spain is the mosquito Phlebotomus Perniciosus to sting an infected dog and then a healthy one so it can spread among the population. Once infected, the dog’s immune system detects the presence of the parasite in its blood cells, and begins to establish attack measures to destroy it. The dog can do this by making antibodies, a type of protein capable of detecting the parasite, or by forming special cells that will directly engulf the infected cells and the parasite inside. The first system, the antibody, fails to eliminate the parasite, so that the infection progresses, and the dog goes on and on making antibodies trying to defeat it. Paradoxically, it is these antibodies manufactured that fail to destroy the parasite, which will cause much of the problems that the dog will suffer. However, if the dog manages to organize a good army of killer cells, the infection will either be kept at bay or even eliminated.

Once affected, your dog will become a chronic sufferer, with a good chance of leading a normal life for the rest of his life, however there is always a risk of relapse and you need to be aware of the potential symptoms, the care required and the financial commitment, as with any dog who has a health condition.

If you are adopting a dog who has had Leish, he or she would have already had treatment in Spain and re-tested until Negative before he/she came into our care. That involved two types of medication intended to combat Leishmania. The first phase of treatment is more intense with ‘Milteforan’ or injections of Glucantime and usually lasts a month. It is then extended with milder medication ‘Allopurinol’. Allopurinol is reasonably priced and shouldn’t cost more than about £10 per month. Allopurinol should not be reduced/stopped unless clear medical evidence suggests. It is advised the dog remain on Allopurinol for 18 months and then if the dog relapses, they will likely recommence, along with other treatment. 

Part of the ongoing monitoring and maintenance of a dog who has previously tested positive for Leish, involves 6 monthly evaluations, until there are three clear results. This means evaluations must be made 6 months after their last test in Spain, then again another 6 months after this and again in another 6 months. We advise PCR of Lymph Nodes or Bone Marrow along with general haematology, biochemisty and SPE (Serum Protein Electrophoresis). Generally, after three negative tests and providing their blood and urine chemistry are healthy and stable, Allopurinol can be reduced and potentially stopped if advised by your Vet and after this point, evaluations can be made annually. A low purine/kidney kind diet is essential for Leish positive dogs, and we recommend immune boosting, kidney supplements and Probiotics also which we will advise you on. Impromune and Nefrochem are among the recommendations.

We will be able to provide proof of testing from the Spanish Shelter for all our Galgos, and advise of the treatment that was administered. We will notify you well in advance of the medication and dose they need, so you can advise your veterinary practice and ensure they are able to prescribe it.

As a precaution and responsible owner, all adopters of Galgos and Pods who have tested negative for the disease previously, must have leish appropriate tests carried out on their adopted dog annually. You should also be aware of the symptoms including:

Lesions (exterior and interior, i.e. mouth), enlarged lymph nodes, lameness, severe weight loss, lethargy, nose bleeds, fever, kidney problems, low blood albumin coupled with high gamma globulin proteins.

As part of our follow-up care we will notify all adopters on an annual basis for Leish negative dogs, and 6 monthly for those who adopt Leish positive dogs.

About Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis (/ˌɛərlɪkiˈoʊsɪs/; also known as canine rickettsiosis, canine hemorrhagic fever, canine typhus, tracker dog disease, and tropical canine pancytopenia) is a tick-borne disease of dogs usually caused by the bacterium Ehrlichia canis. Ehrlichia canis is the pathogen of animals.

Dogs get ehrlichiosis from the brown dog tick, which passes an ehrlichia organism into the bloodstream when it bites. It is also possible for dogs to become infected through a blood transfusion from an infected dog.[1] There are three stages of ehrlichiosis, each varying in severity. The acute stage, occurring several weeks after infection and lasting for up to a month, can lead to fever and lowered peripheral blood cell counts due to bone marrow suppression. The second stage, called the subclinical phase, has no outward signs and can last for the remainder of the dog’s life, during which the dog remains infected with the organism. Some dogs are able to successfully eliminate the disease during this time. In some dogs the third and most serious stage of infection, the chronic phase, will commence. Very low blood cell counts (pancytopenia), bleeding, bacterial infection, lameness, neurological and ophthalmic disorders, and kidney disease can result. Chronic ehrlichiosis can be fatal.

Diagnosis is achieved most commonly by serologic testing of the blood for the presence of antibodies against the ehrlichia organism. Many veterinarians routinely test for the disease, especially in enzootic areas. During the acute phase of infection, the test can be falsely negative because the body will not have had time to make antibodies to the infection. As such, the test should be repeated. A PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test can be performed during this stage to detect genetic material of the bacteria. The PCR test is more likely to yield a negative result during the subclinical and chronic disease phases.[2] In addition, blood tests may show abnormalities in the numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells, and most commonly platelets, if the disease is present. Uncommonly, a diagnosis can be made by looking under a microscope at a blood smear for the presence of the ehrlichia morulae, which sometimes can be seen as intracytoplasmic inclusion bodies within a white blood cell.

Symptoms to look out for include:

Fever, lethargy, anorexia/weight loss, vomiting/diarrhea, lameness, cough, abnormal bruising/bleeding

The prognosis is good for dogs with acute ehrlichiosis. For dogs that have reached the chronic stage of the disease, the prognosis is guarded. When bone marrow suppression occurs and there are low levels of blood cells, the animal may not respond to treatment.

Supportive care must be provided to animals that have clinical signs. Subcutaneous or intravenous fluids are given to dehydrated animals, and severely anemic dogs may require a blood transfusion. Treatment for ehrlichiosis involves the use of antibiotics such as tetracycline or doxycycline for a period of at least six to eight weeks; response to the drugs may take one month. Treatment with macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and azithromycin is being studied. In addition, steroids may be indicated in severe cases in which the level of platelets is so low that the condition is life-threatening.

About Filariasis

Filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by an infection with roundworms of the Filarioidea type. They belong to the group of diseases called helminthiases. Some species of these worms typically live in the heart of the dog and can cause death. One organism transfers the roundworms to another through vectors; mostly mosquitoes and black flies.

The most common way for a dog to get infected with Filariasis is through a mosquito bite. A mosquito that bit an infected dog carries the roundworm and passes it on to a healthy dog. The mosquito acquires microfilariae from the infected organisms it bites.  Inside the mosquito’s body, they will develop into larvae. 

When the microfilariae in the mosquito have become larvae, they are introduced to the dog where they continue their life cycle. Most species of Filaria are more common in tropical areas since this is where there are higher populations of mosquitoes. 

The vet will confirm the diagnosis through a series of tests that include a microfilaria screening tests and heartworm serology.  What follows is a complete physical examination, a urinalysis, chest x-rays, and evaluation of the heart.  

The veterinarian will prescribe medication to get rid of the adult worms and to eliminate the baby ones. The best way to prevent filariasis in dogs is through vaccination. So make sure you are up-to-date with your dog’s vaccines. 

Symptoms to look out for include:

Weight loss, exercise intolerance, cough, laboured breathing, fatigue.

About Anaplasmosis

Anaplasmosis is a tick-borne disease affecting ruminants, dogs, and horses,[1] and is caused by Anaplasma bacteria. Anaplasmosis is an infectious but not contagious disease. Anaplasmosis can be transmitted through mechanical and biological vector processes. Anaplasmosis can also be referred to as “yellow bag” or “yellow fever” because the infected animal can develop a jaundiced look. Other signs of infection include weight loss, diarrhea, paleness of the skin, aggressive behavior, and high fever.[2]

Mechanical and biological vector transmission work in different ways but both lead to infection of the red blood cells. Mechanical transmission happens in two ways, one when red blood cells are inoculated with the blood parasite through surgical equipment including needles, dehorners, ear taggers, castrating knives, and tattoo instruments. Another mechanical transmission mode is through the mouthparts of biting flies who carry an Anaplasma species of blood parasite.[2]

Once infected with a species of Anaplasma, the parasite multiplies in the blood stream and attaches to red blood cells. The immune system will attempt to kill the infected blood cells but will also kill uninfected red blood cells in the process. The number of red blood cells being destroyed becomes larger than new red blood cells being made, causing the host to become anemic and leading to many other symptoms. Once infected with anaplasmosis, the cattle will always be a carrier of the infectious disease, and calves born from carriers will also carry the disease.[2]

Symptoms to look out for include:

Anaplasmosis will not occur until 3–6 weeks after infection.[2] The most common symptoms of anaplasmosis include fever, a decreased number of white blood cellsplatelets in the bloodstream, and abnormally elevated levels of liver enzymes. The erythema chronicum migrans rash may be seen with anaplasmosis as it is co-transmitted in 10% of Lyme disease cases.[citation needed]

Anemia may be severe and result in cardiovascular changes such as an increase in heart rateBlood in the urine may occur due to the lysis of red blood cells. General systemic signs include diarrhea, anorexia, and weight loss. Infected animals may develop a jaundiced look which then turns into paleness around the eyes, muzzle, lips, and teats of the cattle.[2]


Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is a vector-borne disease caused by Borrelia bacteria, which are spread by ticks in the genus Ixodes.[3][8][9] The most common sign of infection is an expanding red rash, known as erythema migrans (EM), which appears at the site of the tick bite about a week afterwards.[1] The rash is typically neither itchy nor painful.[1] Approximately 70–80% of infected people develop a rash.[1] Early diagnosis can be difficult.[10] Other early symptoms may include fever, headaches and tiredness.[1] If untreated, symptoms may include loss of the ability to move one or both sides of the facejoint painssevere headaches with neck stiffness or heart palpitations.[1] Months to years later, repeated episodes of joint pain and swelling may occur.[1] Occasionally, shooting pains or tingling in the arms and legs may develop.[1] Despite appropriate treatment, about 10 to 20% of those affected develop joint pains, memory problems, and tiredness for at least six months.[1][11] 

Symptoms to look out for include:

Lyme disease can affect several body systems and produce a broad range of symptoms. Not everyone with Lyme disease has all of the symptoms and many of the symptoms are not specific to Lyme disease, but can occur with other diseases, as well.[32]

The incubation period from infection to the onset of symptoms is usually one to two weeks, but can be much shorter (days) or much longer (months to years).[33] Lyme symptoms most often occur from May to September in the Northern Hemisphere because the nymphal stage of the tick is responsible for most cases.[33] Asymptomatic infection exists, but occurs in less than 7% of infected individuals in the United States.[34] Asymptomatic infection may be much more common among those infected in Europe.[35]

What to do

Please bear in mind that any dog can later down the line test positive for these diseases. Due to the nature of the diseases, they can lay dormant, with no symptoms for many years. By annual testing of your dog, it enables them to receive treatment should they ever test positive but show no signs of the disease. Leishmaniasis can lay dormant for up to 9 years!

Should your dog ever test positive for Ehrlichia, Filaria, Anaplasma or Lyme/Borellia, they will require treatment, which is very effective and then they will need re-testing by way of PCR 6 months later. If clear at this stage, you can re-test annually, again by PCR.