Information for You and Your Veterinarian
Adopting any dog means taking on the responsibility for that dog’s health and wellbeing. ADOPTING A DOG FROM SPAIN COMES WITH SOME GENERAL AND SOME SPECIFIC HEALTH RISKS THAT YOU AND YOUR VETERINARIAN SHOULD BE AWARE OF.
Communication with those knowledgeable about these issues is the best way to ensure your dog’s continued health. Greyhounds in Motion is here to answer questions and provide you with expert resources. Together we can ensure you have accurate information; misinformation can cause delays in treatment and be financially burdensome. Please allow us to help you navigate any questions or concerns so that you can avoid unnecessary stress, cost, and treatment delays.
Before leaving Spain, dogs are tested for diseases that commonly occur in Mediterranean countries. Some of these diseases are common in the US, others are not. As is logical, US veterinary schools teach about diseases commonly found in the US. However, there is are an increasing number of veterinarians in the US that are learning about Mediterranean diseases, as the world becomes more connected and as more dogs from around the world find homes in the US. Do not be concerned if your veterinarian is not knowledgeable about common Mediterranean diseases. We will provide you with information and assistance as needed.
Your dog’s heath records have been reviewed in detail by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control. This should provide you and your vet with a level of comfort. Please give your vet a copy of all records, including those in the passport. Remember, many records are in European date format (day/month/year).
The four main diseases to be aware of are Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Heartworm, and Leishmaniasis. The aim of this communication is not to make you worry about these diseases but only to make you and your veterinarian aware of these diseases:
- Babesiosis (often referred to as Babesia) and Ehrlichiosis (often referred to as Ehrlichia) are diseases well known in the US. Any sighthound savvy vet should be familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. They are both tick-borne illnesses, diagnosed by bloodwork and treated with commonly available, inexpensive medication. You dog was tested and treated (if necessary) for these diseases before coming to the US.
- Heartworm is a concern for all dog owners. It is caused by a filarial worm that lives in the cardiovascular system. Heartworm is diagnosed by a blood test and is treated with medication, sometimes over an extended period of time. Before coming to the US, your dog tested negative for Heartworm disease. You are required to provide monthly heartworm preventative to your dog on an ongoing basis. Heartworm disease is painful, and the treatment is often very difficult for a dog to endure. As part of your dog’s adoption contract, we require administration of monthly heartworm prevention as prescribed by your veterinarian.
- Leishmaniasis (commonly referred to as Leish) is a parasite transmitted to dogs and other mammals by sandflies. These specific sandflies are not present in the US. This is the one disease your vet is most likely to be unfamiliar with as it is not common in the US. There is a fair amount of misinformation floating around about Leish, so let us provide some key facts.
- Your adoption contract requires an annual Leish test*
- A very large number of dogs in many parts of the world have Leish
- Leish is a vector-borne disease transmitted by sandflies. There are no examples of Leish being transmitted from dog to dog or dog to human – GDS would separate Leish positive dogs from other dogs and volunteers if there was a transmission risk
- The disease can remain dormant for up to seven years
- With early detection and proper treatment dogs with Leish can live a normal life – Leish is not cured, it is treated, and relapses can occur
- Without detection or proper treatment Leish is deadly to dogs
- We have access to the medications needed to treat Leish, the most common of which is a drug used to treat gout in humans
- A dog may be symptom-free and Leish positive — the annual test is not optional and should not be administered only if there are symptoms. Some Leish positive dogs show no symptoms which is why yearly testing is so important.
- Common symptoms of Leish are: crusting of skin around ears or eyes, hair loss around the eyes, significant weight loss, changes to skin around the muzzle or paw pads. However, each of the symptoms are also indicative of common allergies. Do not engage in expensive testing and worry, contact us if your dog experiences issues. There are also MANY online forums dealing with Leish, many of which are wonderful and some of which are completely nonproductive and even dangerous – never be a Vet MedMD.
*Blood tests are used to detect Leishmaniasis antibodies. Request an IFA, do NOT obtain the ELISA test. If the IFA test is positive for Leishmaniasis, a PCR test should be obtained to confirm. If you receive a positive Leish test result, please reach out to us.
Remember the shortest distance from point A to point B is a straight line. Dogs from Spain get all the issues other dogs do. DO NOT jump to the conclusion that your dog has an exotic disease when they have an itch or sore. A VERY small number of dogs that came to the US Leish negative have later tested positive. When in doubt, reach out to us.