Bacterial or parasitic infections in dogs

How to Know if my Dog Has Leishmaniasis

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 20, 2017
How to Know if my Dog Has Leishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis is a disease that can affect your dog and is caused by a parasite called Leishmania. It can be prevented, as it is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito of the genus Phlebotomus. It can be extremely serious and even fatal if not detected early. It is a chronic disease that has no cure but your pet can not spread it to other animals or people. At OneHowTo we show you how to tell if your dog has leishmaniasis.

You may also be interested in: How to know if my dog has ringworm

Steps to follow:


Leishmaniasis is a seasonal and endemic disease that, depending on the area where your pet has been they may be more likely to contract it. For example there will be more chances that your dog will catch it if you live in places with high humidity and hot weather.

It is a health problem that can be very hard for your pet and for you as their owner. You should be patient and remember that they will need treatment to alleviate the symptoms and you'll have to carry out constant checks on your pet to prevent new outbreaks after starting treatment.

Leishmaniasis has no cure and you have to remember that if your pet gets treatment it does not mean that your dog won't suffer from it again. If your dog has leishmaniasis it will be for life and it will require constant medical supervision, it is a fact that you must accept with love and responsibility.

However, it is also important that if your dog has leishmaniasis it can't transmit it to other dogs or humans, so there is no problem in this sense.

How to Know if my Dog Has Leishmaniasis - Step 1

To know if your dog is suffering from leishmaniasis you have to be aware of various symptoms. If it goes untreated or without routine checks afterwards, this disease can prove fatal to your beloved animal. This condition may be cutaneous affecting the skin or visceral when the kidneys and liver are affected. Leishmania can affect dogs of any age or breed, so any dog can fall victim to this disease.

If you notice any of these signs it is recommended to take them to the vet immediately so they can examine your pet and make the appropriate diagnosis. If you notice sores on their head, on the edge of their ears or limbs, or eye inflammation they may be symptoms of having leishmaniasis.


To find out if your pet has leishmania you should also look out for more symptoms such as abnormal nail growth, wounds that never heal, dandruff and hair loss on their head, diarrhoea and blood in their urine. But the clinical signs may go further because your dog may suffer conditions such as:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Muscular atrophy especially in the face (with a look of sadness)
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Joint inflammation
  • Limp
  • Dermatitis
  • Fever
  • Nasal bleeding
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and the inside any other eligible parts
  • Swelling of the abdomen
How to Know if my Dog Has Leishmaniasis - Step 3

If your dog shows any of these symptoms it is advisable to see a vet. Your vet will do a simple test to see if there's an infection and if the result is positive, more tests will be done to confirm the diagnosis of this disease. If the disease is at first stages, your dog can lead a normal life with regular checks always keeping potential for regrowth at bay.

Not all dogs will have the same symptoms and even some may not show any and live with the disease without noticing. An older dog with a weakened immune system will be more at risk, however, a dog with strong defences but could be infected with the parasite and live their whole lives without suffering any problems.

How to Know if my Dog Has Leishmaniasis - Step 4

By receiving treatment for leishmaniasis, although it is expensive, it will increase the likelihood that your dog will have a good quality of life and protect them against catching it again. Many dogs can live a long life with minimised symptoms. The consequences that your pet can suffer from after being diagnosed depend on how the organs have been affected. If the disease is detected late, leishmaniasis can be fatal, especially in cases of visceral leishmaniasis.

Remember that the responsible thing is to trust your vet and ask for information on the likelihood of this disease in your area, and especially advice about the disease and palliative treatment. Share everything you learn about this disease with those closest to you, you should raise awareness about the importance of prevention because leishmania has no cure.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Know if my Dog Has Leishmaniasis, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
1 of 4
How to Know if my Dog Has Leishmaniasis