Have you heard of Chagas disease? If not, you likely aren’t the only one. Chagas disease is quite widespread in Latin America, but it did not reach the States until fairly recently. It is a zoonotic disease, which means it can affect both people and pets. Of course, we’re going to focus on how it affects our canine companions. A San Antonio, TX veterinarian discusses it below.
Chagas disease can cause some pretty serious health problems, including heart failure. Unfortunately, it can also be lethal. The good news is that it’s not as contagious as some zoonotic diseases. It’s spread mainly by a specific type of insect, the Mexican Kissing Bug, which is also called Cone Nosed Bugs, or Chinches. They are called kissing bugs because they tend to bite sleeping people around the mouth or eyes, causing visible bites. Our furry friends also sometimes contract it by eating rodents or insects that have been infected.
Chagas disease can cause a wide variety of symptoms … or even none at all. Your canine pal may seem tired and lethargic, and he may not act as playful as he usually does. He may also not be very interested in food, which is always a red flag with dogs. Other symptoms include weight loss, fainting, vomiting, and diarrhea. As the disease advances, you may also see coughing or other respiratory issues. Sadly, sudden death can happen at any stage of the disease.
So far, there is not any standard treatment for dogs that have been infected with Chagas disease. Your vet may recommend specific treatments or medications, based on your dog’s size, age, breed, and condition. It’s worth pointing out that in advanced cases, your vet may focus on managing the problems Chagas causes, such as heart conditions.
Currently, there is no vaccination available to protect your canine friend from Chagas disease. The best thing you can do is to just keep an eye out for kissing bugs.They often like to nest in dogs’ beds, and then bite the pups as they are sleeping. If you do see any, contact a pest control service. You’d also need to reach out to both your doctor and Fido’s veterinarian for further instructions.
Do you have questions about caring for your pet? Contact us, your local San Antonio, TX veterinary clinic, anytime. We’re here to help!