Canine Diseases

All our dogs are tested for mediterraniean diseases, but please ensure your dog is kept fit and healthy by taking him/her to the vet every year for a full check up, lungworm is becoming common in the UK so it is really important to keep up to date with flea and worming treatments, for natural treatments please see:

Canine Leishmaniasis

What is Leishmaniasis (leishmania)?

Leishmaniasis is a tropical disease transmitted to dogs by a tiny sandfly. The sandfly is active between dusk and dawn and is common in all Mediterranean Countries, (unfortunatley as climate change increases we will be seeing more cases of sandfly over in the UK so it is important for the future we are all made aware of current treatment). When an infected sandfly bites a dog, the dog is in danger of contracting the disease, unless it is protected by an insect repellent collar, called a ‘scallibor’ collar. All SOS dogs wear scallibor collars but if you would like to donate them as they are very costly we would be very grateful, please contact us for information on where to purchase.

What happens if a dog is diagnosed with Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis cannot currently be cured, but it can be treated. A dog with leishmaniasis can live a happy and healthy life for many years. The usual treatment is with Allopurinol tablets, which are cheap and readily available as they are used for treatment of gout in humans. Vets in countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, routinely treat infected dogs rather than euthanise them. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the more successful the treatment is. An owned dog, who is well fed and nourished, is of course likely to respond to treatment better than a stray dog who lives on scraps scavenged from the streets.

What other precautions should be taken in dogs who have Leishmaniasis?

The dogs need regular monitoring via blood tests. At least once a year a test should be done to measure the level of Leishmaniasis antibodies in the blood. This test can be done in the UK. A general blood test should also be done to ensure that the dog’s kidneys and other organs are all functioning well. This can be done by any veterinarian.

Can Leishmaniasis be transmitted to other dogs or humans?

There is NO danger of Leishmaniasis being transmitted to other dogs in the UK and there is no danger of the disease being transmitted to humans. The sandfly that transmits the disease does not exist in the UK and canine Leishmaniasis is not the same disease that affects humans in some parts of the world.

Are SOS’s dogs all tested for Leishmaniasis?

Yes, ALL dogs we bring into the UK are blood-tested for Leishmaniasis before they leave Spain (and we DON’T give infected dogs for adoption, unless the potential adopter insists on adopting the dog they have chosen). However it is wise to blood-test the dogs at least once a year for a couple of years. The test should be done sooner, of course, if any symptoms of Leishmaniasis are noted.

What are the symptoms of Leishmaniasis?

Sometimes there are no symptoms and the dog seems perfectly fit. However, common symptoms are:-

  • Weight loss
  • Anemia and lethargy – your dog may not be “just lazy”
  • Hair loss and skin lesions – particularly around the face and ears
  • “Dandruff” noted in the coat
  • Long and thick claws
  • Lameness

Most UK vets have little or no experience with Leishmaniasis and will welcome our input. It is imperative that you contact us before you take your dog to the vet, should you worry that he/she may be infected.

If you have any questions or concerns about this issue, either before or after you adopt a dog via SOS please contact us immediately, especially if your dog is unwell and if you are uncertain about what to do. We all want your dog to enjoy a long and happy life and we are here to help and support you. PLEASE NOTE WE CANNOT ANSWER GENERAL EMAILS ABOUT THIS CONDITION. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR VET OR  A SPECIALIST.

Please also see our Facebook support group for more information:

Also the following link may be useful: