The holiday is just around the corner. Depending on the travel destination, dog owners also have to ask themselves whether they should take their four-legged friends with them on the trip. Southern countries in particular can be critical and harbor unknown dangers, because there are diseases that are still largely unknown in our latitudes.
One of the dangerous “travel sicknesses” is leishmaniasis, which is transmitted to dogs by the bite of sand flies. The pathogen was the inspiration for the name of the disease. It is caused by a unicellular parasite, Leishmania infantum. After transmission, the pathogen multiplies in the dog, which is considered the main host, and spreads throughout its body. The infection often goes unnoticed because the incubation period can last up to eight years.
The symptoms are often only mildly pronounced at first. Altered skin areas such as hair loss, ulcers or eczema on the edges of the ears, nose and lower abdomen can be the first signs of an infection. Lymph node swelling, weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss are common as the disease progresses. Even if there are minor abnormalities, a visit to the vet is advisable. The faster an infected animal is treated, the greater the chance that no other organs such as the kidneys, blood vessels, eyes, muscles and joints, etc. will be affected. Drug treatment is possible, but usually long-lasting, expensive and the pathogen is usually not completely eliminated by the therapy. Relapses are therefore common.
The best way to protect against leishmaniasis is not to take your dog with you when you travel to areas where sandflies live. Of course, no dog lover likes to hear that. In addition, sandflies are at home in the popular Mediterranean travel destinations in southern Europe. The combination of vaccination and suitable preparations that repel sandflies offers very good protection. These are available at the veterinary practice. A blood test must be carried out before vaccination, as only healthy dogs can be vaccinated. In the evening hours and at dusk, however, the animal should not be outdoors if possible. Fine-meshed mosquito nets on windows and doors help to keep nocturnal mosquitoes away.
There is an increased risk between April and November. During this time, the sandflies are particularly active. A relaxed winter holiday in the south could therefore be a good alternative.
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Original content from: Bundesverband für Tiergesundheit eV, transmitted by news aktuell