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.  nside 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.