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My dog has leishmaniasis (also known as kalazar ) Should I put her to sleep?

Updated on April 1, 2012

Finding out your dog has leishmaniasis, (kalazar)....

If you're reading this hub then more than likely you or someone you knows dog has been diagnosed with kalazar. It is a gut wrenching moment . When our dog - Beanie - was diagnosed, my first reaction was that she would have to be put to sleep, that reaction was mainly down to my ignorance of the disease and having heard that was the best thing to do for a dog with kalazar. Our vet told us not to make any decisions before giving our Beanie a blood test to check that the disease hadn't effected her vital organs. She explained that if we'd caught the disease early enough then we could manage it with medication, but if it was more advanced and had damaged her organs then euthanasia would be the kindest thing for our dog. Luckily for us the disease hadn't effected her organs and was manageable with drugs. Hopefully this will be the case with your dog too.

Roxy and Rascal
Roxy and Rascal

Managing your dogs kalazar....

Kalazar in dogs isn't curable, but it is manageable if caught early enough. Our dog is treated with tablets containing allopurinol every morning and evening, which is the cheapest way of treating it. It costs us about 2 euros 60 cents every three and a half weeks, which really isn't a lot (we live in Greece).There are other options including a course of very expensive injections which our vet advised us against as they did work out very expensive and she couldn't guarantee that they would work. She told us that as long as we gave Beanie her tablets as directed then she should be fine. When our dogs dermatitis flares up due to her kalazar I give her tablets containing levamisole a couple of times a week. As long as you are regular with the medication and make sure your dog swallows it then they should be fine. I give our dog her tablets poked into a piece of tasty - Beanie thinks so - cheap hot dog sausage and she never fails to follow me around until she has had it. Our dog has now lived with the disease for over four years now and it hasn't effected her quality of life, which at the end of the day is the most important thing.

The signs of kalazar in your dog....

If you just happen to read this and your dog hasn't been diagnosed with kalazar or you think that maybe your dog has the disease - in which case stop reading and call your vet!! Catching it early is the key to saving your dog, our dog certainly didn't appear ill in the slightest, so if your dog shows any of the following.

  • Patchy fur loss or thinning of fur over their body with dandruff like skin flakes.
  • A loss of fur to the rim of their eyes, a bit harder to notice, but once the vet pointed it out I could see what she meant.
  • A dry nose and maybe fur loss on the top of their snout.
  • Scaly patches on their elbows, maybe slightly inflamed.
  • Our dog was excessively rubbing up on everything and had pink patches like mild eczema on her belly.
  • Claws grow fast and become more obviously curved.

As the disease progresses the symptoms are.

  • A continuous lack of interest in their food.
  • Vomiting when they do eat.
  • Listlessness.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Weight loss.

Don't wait to see if you're dog gets better on their own or wait until you have the time to take your dog to the vet. Get your dog to the vet now and hopefully it turns out to be nothing serious,but if it is kalazar then hopefully you've caught it early enough and your dog can live out her years popping pills.

How is Kalazar spread?....

Kalazar is spread through the bite of an infected sandfly during the summer months in Mediterranean countries. Here in Greece the disease is quite rife among owned dogs and the stray dogs that sadly roam our streets.If an uninfected sandfly bites an infected dog the sandfly will then become infected and and will pass on the disease to any other dog it bites.

As the old saying goes prevention is better than cure.....

There are a few things you can do to lower the risk of infection for your dog. There is no 100% protection.

Sandflies bite in the summer from May through to October and at night between dusk and dawn, so if your dog is an indoor dog then keeping you dog inside at night lowers the risk of being bitten. There is a collar you can buy for your dog to wear, it looks like your common and garden flea collar, but it must contain the chemical deltamethrin as this is what repels the sandfly. It will also keep those nasty ticks and fleas at bay. We use what they call a Scalibor collar, it's the only one that we've found to contain the chemical where we live. Please don't be told that a collar will protect your dog if it doesn't contain deltamethrin, it won't. The collar protection last between four and six months depending on how often you wash your dog or if your dog likes to swim.

If your dog is an outside dog, then the risk of getting bitten is higher. Putting a protective collar on your dog and spraying the kennel with fly spray in the evening can help lower the risk.

Would it be kinder to put my dog to sleep?....

I'm hoping this article will help people to understand that a dog with kalazar can live happily and healthily as long as it gets the medication it needs and the disease has been caught early enough. Unfortunately if the disease has been caught late then the kindest thing to do would be to put your dog to sleep. Only you can make that decision with the help a vet. If you would feel happier getting a second opinion then do so.

I really hope your story ends like ours and your faithful friend goes onto live healthily and happily.



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    • profile image

      jean raithby 3 years ago

      My dog has recently been diagnosed with calazar after we found he had lost fur on his elbows and now he has lost fur around his neck. He has been on medication for about 4 weeks. Can you tell me if his fur will grow back?

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 4 years ago from Greece

      Hi Danielle, I am sorry to hear that your dog doesn't have an appetite. A lack of appetite is not something Beanie has ever suffered from, hence the rather rotund shape of her!

      Have you tried cooking plain, easy to digest foods like boiled rice and chicken breast or white fish - watch out for bones though? Maybe if the food you are giving him is a little heavy for him he will eat and be able to keep that down. If he eats it, give it to him for a while until you feel happy about slowly adding the food that you intend to give him long term.

      I am no vet, but when one of our dogs is off its food due to illness our vet recommends giving Primperan in injection form until and for a couple of days after they are eating properly again. Primperan alleviates any nausea the dog maybe feeling and gets them eating again. So maybe it's worth asking your vet about giving your dog anti nausea medication, just in case, it may help and if it doesn't at least you have tried!

      I am sorry that I cannot be of more help to you and I hope that your rescue dog pulls through and gets to live the life and feel the love that all dogs deserve!

    • profile image

      Danielle 4 years ago

      I adopted an animal rescue dog last month with leishmania. He is adorable but I am struggling with his lack of interest in food and when he eats he vomits. He is on 2 tabs a day, fur healthy but appetite nil. Should I feed him something special for this condition! As he is only 2 years old, dumped in Spain, I want to do everything I can to give him the rewarding life he deserves. Thanks x

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 4 years ago from Greece

      Hi Mandy, kalazar cannot be transmitted from dog to dog. The only way a dog can get kalazar is by being bitten by an infected sandfly.

      We have a four dogs and only one of ours is infected with kalazar. Beanie has now had the disease going on for seven years and is still happy and healthy, although we have had to up her medication in the past year.

    • Mandy Jones profile image

      Mandy Jones 4 years ago from Hampshire, England. UK

      Very informative hub, but I was also wondering if a healthy dog can contract the disease from an infected dog?

    • profile image

      George 5 years ago

      Hi Debbie

      I just adopted a 2 year old male Doberman that has been cured from kalazar and leads a normal life. We do give him his pills twice a day. My question is that I have a female 3 month old puppy Doberman and Im wondering if she can catch the disease from my other dog? Is it contagious between dogs? Will I be able to breed with the infected male now that he is healthy?


    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      Thank you for your support and that link ripplemaker.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Early detection is still the best thing that could happen so the dog gets treated. But it truly makes my heart ache seeing animals getting sick too.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. To all who would like to read and vote, this way please:

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      I'm glad the hub was educational.It can be a nasty disease if not caught early.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I had never heard of leishmaniasis before. Thank you for sharing this terrible medical problem. I have bookmarked this hub as I am a dog person and I always like to learn about anything to do with dogs.

      Welcome to HubPages.

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      Thank you for your comment. If my hub helps to make people more aware of this disease then I'll be happy.

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hello Debbie!

      Also living in Greece I'm very familiar to this horrible disease. We do everything in our power to protect our dog with Scalibor collar, repellant spray, mosquito nets. . . you name it!

      Taking care of the stray dogs in our community, does however put me in very sad situations there I have to put dogs to sleep because they have been diagnosed with kalazar.

      But catching the disease in early stage can save the animal, and I know many dogs that live a long and healthy life with the right medication.

      I'm so happy that you caught the disease early enough so you could manage it with medication and save Beanie.

      She is such a beautiful dog and I wish you and Beanie all the best.

      I have to welcome you to Hp! This was a great article and you sure got my vote up!



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