Mosquito-borne Diseases In Dogs
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We use the term "mosquito" to name numerous species that make up different families of diptera nematocera. Despite their small size, mosquitoes are responsible for numerous health risks to our families and animals.
Although some species are completely harmless, the females of the families Culicidae and Psychodidae are hematophagous and can act as vectors (and intermediate hosts) of various pathogens. Therefore, its sting can transmit diseases, not only to humans, but also to domestic and wild animals.
In this AnimalWised article, we will discuss with you which diseases mosquitoes can transmit to dogs. We will also give you some tips on how to avoid bites and keep these disease carrying insects from your home.
Mosquito-borne Diseases In Dogs
The two most common diseases transmitted by mosquitoes to dogs are; heartworm (also known as Dirofilaria immitis) and leishmaniasis.
Unfortunately, these pathologies include complex clinical conditions and need to be treated quickly to allow for a favorable prognosis. Therefore, it is important to know what their symptoms are: in order to be able to notice them immediately and act accordingly.
Mosquito-borne diseases in dogs: heartworm
Heartworm, (Dirofilaria immitis) is one of the most severe parasitic pathologies in dogs. Heartworm is a mosquito-borne dog disease whereby this parasitic roundworm spreads through hosts, such as mosquitoes. This disease is currently widespread throughout the world, with the exception of Antarctica.
Hematophagous females of the mosquitoes from the genera Culex, Aedes and Anopheles are the main vectors of the heartworm. These mosquitoes need an intermediary host to carry out their productive cycle as they cannot develop their larvae in an external environment. Therefore, they are housed in the bodies of other animals. This housing allows their larvae to transform into immature worms.
When a contaminated mosquito bites a dog, it opens the gateway for immature worms to enter a canine organism. After entering the body, these immature parasites reproduce at a high speed and spread through the bloodstream to the dogs’ tissue.
When they reach maturity (which can take between 80 and 120 days), these worms lodge themselves predominantly in the heart and lungs of the animal, to allow themselves the continuity to their own life cycles.
Symptoms of canine dirofilariasis
Many dogs often show no symptoms of being infected by the worm Dirofilaria immitis (after days or months). Therefore, periodic visits to a veterinarian are necessary for any early detection of these parasites.
However, the following symptoms may occur in dogs with dirofilariasis:
- Difficulty breathing and excessive fatigue after performing simple tasks
- Intolerance to exercise
- loss of appetite
- Accelerated heartbeat
- Bleeding from the mouth and/or nose
- Generalized weakness, apathy or depression
- Anorexia and/or malnutrition (extreme consequences of lack of appetite)
The prognosis of canine dirofilariasis mainly depends on early diagnosis, as treatment must be initiated quickly to eliminate larvae and adult worms. This is in addition to avoiding irreversible damage to the animal’s organs. Therefore, it is essential to be able to spot the first symptoms of this disease and act quickly.
Mosquito-borne diseases in dogs: canine Leishmania
Leishmaniasis, is a severe zoonotic parasitic disease that includes several severe infectious processes. It can affect dogs of all ages, mixed and pure bred, and can also be transmitted to other species. Phlebotomine sandflies, of the spychodidae family, are the vectors of this disease. It is carried through the protozoan microscopes of the genus Leishmania.
This is a chronic disease. Treatment of this disease must begin immediately in order to avoid serious injuries and preserve the animal’s well-being. If a dog is diagnosed early enough and given the opportunity to receive effective treatment, they may still have a chance at a good quality of life.
Many people believe that leishmaniasis in dogs is contagious, but it is important to note that this is not true. Canine leishmaniasis is not contagious to humans or other dogs. Humans and other dogs can only be infected by the causative bacteria which is carried by the same sandflies, but not the dog which carries it.
Symptoms of leishmania in dogs
After being infected with leishmania, dogs experience an incubation period that can last from 3 to 18 months. When the symptomatic phase begins, the signs of leishmaniosis can be diverse, but will usually mainly affect the animal’s skin. Among the most frequent symptoms of leishmania in dogs, we can find:
- Hairloss (usually more intense on the legs and around the head)
- Peeling or "dandruff" (exfoliative dermatitis)
- Skin lesions: mainly around the eyes, on the ears and on the extremities
- Sudden loss of appetite and weight (can result in malnutrition in more serious cases)
- Secondary skin infections (derived from exposed or uncured wounds)
In more serious cases, the animal may present a complex symptomatology associated with the partial or total loss of renal function.
There are some vaccines which help fight against leishmania symptoms. These vaccines are done at a veterinarian and are normally used as a form of prevention. However, unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for this disease.
Mosquito-borne diseases in dogs: prevention
The most effective way of preventing mosquito bites and, therefore, these diseases, is through preventive medicine. Make sure your dog is regularly dewormed, this is the safest method of prevention. You can find many different forms of deworming products on the market, including: pills, collars, powders and aerosols. We recommend consulting your vet before choosing the most suitable product to deworm your animal. Your vet can propose appropriate medicine according to the health status and history of your dog.
Mosquito-borne diseases in dogs: home remedies
In addition to protecting our dogs with specific products and natural remedies, we can also carry out extra measures to repel mosquitoes from our homes, thus protecting us and all members of our family. Here are some home remedies to repel mosquitoes from your home:
- Install mosquito nets on the windows and doors of your house .
- Avoid having dense vegetation or accumulate moisture in your home environment.
- Clean and empty all containers that can accumulate rainwater and serve as a repository for mosquito larvae.
- Use commercial mosquito repellent or learn how to make insect repellent. It is essential to remember that human repellents should not be used for dogs (it can be toxic to your animal).
- Mosquitoes proliferate mainly in warmer climates. Therefore, when temperatures increase, remember to reinforce preventive measures, mainly when exposed outdoors.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Mosquito-borne Diseases In Dogs, we recommend you visit our Infectious diseases category.