Tag Archives: Dog Health

Danger For Dogs in Hot Countries

There is a danger for dogs in hot countries,especially the Mediterranean ones such as southern Spain, that I’m going to talk about here comes in the form of a tiny mosquito that flies only after sundown and before dusk, is harmless to human beings and most other animals. It is potentially lethal to dogs.

The mosquito, whose proper name is the Phlebotom mosquitoe, is often referred to as the sandfly mosquito and the disease it passes on to dogs is called Leishmaniasis, commonly referred to as sandfly disease. If it’s not treated by a vet your dog will die. Worse news is that in southern Spain, where I live near the coast, there is a 35% chance of a dog catching the disease.

Leishmaniasis acts in a similar way in dogs as AIDS does in humans. It breaks down the dog’s immune system so that he has no defence against otherwise harmless diseases. Once contracted, a dog with Leishmaniasis will usually begin to deteriorate slowly over a period of a few weeks,when more fur than usual will fall out, the paws will enlarge and bleed, the claws will grow at an unnatural rate and the dog will be less inclined to want to eat, but will often drink more than usual.

Once the disease has taken a firm hold and in the absence of any medication, the dog’s health will start to deteriorate more rapidly, losing weight and becoming listless until finally losing interest in anything much and sleeping for unnaturally long periods. Ultimately, he will go to sleep and not wake up.

If you can catch it quickly enough and get a vet to confirm Leishmaniasis, a series of medications can be given which may prolong your dogs life by several years. However, the medication is expensive and if you are already on a tight budget and especially so nowadays in the wake of the economic problems, this can become a painful dilemma for owners. There is a new treatment called Milteforan which is now available and is given daily on food for 28 days. It is more effective than Glucantime, you can administer it yourself and it has no side effects on the liver or kidneys. After 28 days continue treatment with with Alopurinol for a few months just to be sure and then hopefully no further treatment.

There are some things you can do to prevent your dog contracting Leishmaniasis. Fitting your dog with a Scalibor collar against ticks and fleas will also help to deter the mosquito, although it is not a guaranteed repellent. Keeping him indoors after the sun has set will reduce the risk and having mosquito netting fitted on all your home’s windows and openings is another good measure of prevention. If your dog needs to go outside after dark, make sure it is only brief.

There is nothing you can do to be completely sure of preventing your dog contracting this horrible disease, but taking the above preventative measures will give him the best chances of remaining free of the disease. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leishmaniasis for more details on this disease.

Terry Didcott
For Dogs

Guard Dogs

Guard dogs are a subject that I’m not sure I even want to write about, but as this site is meant for all aspects of man’s best friend, then it should get an airing. The last post Dog Toys, was more for dogs and their toys and the fun side of owning a dog, whereas this post will be a little more serious.

Guard dogs are mostly kept by people to guard property. Dogs make perfect sentinels in this respect because of their natural pack instinct to guard the members of the pack and also the den when one of the females has pups. When they become a member of the human pack, that instinct carries over to guarding the family house as well as guarding the family. In that situation, almost any dog can be thought of as a guard dog.

As long as a dog can bark loudly and cause a commotion should a would be intruder come calling, he will have done his job and seen them off. Of course the family pet doubles as family member and also intruder deterrent, so they are generally not seen as out and out guard dogs as such.

People’s general view of a guard dog is a large mean and tough dog, such as a Rottweiler, Doberman or German Shepherd sitting chained up in a builder’s yard or scrap metal yard which is capable of scaring off an intruder. These dogs live a completely different life to the family pet. While they have some human companionship during working hours, they are left alone at night. For dog, which is a social animal, this is a very sad and lonely existence, which is why I’m not happy writing about it.

When you take that miserable existence that a guard dog may face in a country like the UK, Australia or the US for example, its bad enough. But when you take a country like Spain where the general population does not view dogs in quite the same light as we do, the role of a guard dog is a horrible existence and one which angers me in the extreme. Dogs are often left alone without adequate shelter for days on end and often die young of leishmanosis, which is a common disease spread by a tiny mosquito that only affects dogs and is fatal unless expensive treatment is administered by a vet. The chances of catching this disease can be reduced by not allowing a dog out after dusk, as the mosquito does not fly during theday.

Dogs left to guard a property are exposed to this threat simply because they do not have shelter.

Ok, now I’m getting angry at a people who are ignorant when it comes to looking after animals. They’re humanitarian record in this respect is not good – the country still loves to watch a bull being slowly tortured to death by sadistic so-called bull fighters (more like cowardly tormentors) who don’t even get into the ring with the bull until it is considerably weakened by repeated stab wounds made by a small army of men on horseback. So you can imagine how they treat their dogs.

Even families with dogs are ignorant to the dangers and allow their dogs to walk unleashed along the streets, not seeming to care that their pet might easily run underneath a car. My own next door neighbour, who is an intelligent man (he’s a top heart surgeon) opens his door in the morning and lets his Spaniel take itself for a walk. Try telling him to put the dog on a leash and you get the typical Spanish shrug as if to say “what do you expect me to do about it?” One day that dog is not going to come home and his two boys are going to be terribly upset.

What has any of this got to do with guard dogs?

Well, I suppose my experience of living here in Spain for several years has enabled me to observe people who keep dogs more for the guard dog element than for an actual pet. Not all Spanish people are as bad as this, of course. There are good and bad in all races and some truly love and care for their dogs. But still far too many do not and I see some unbelievably ignorant people keeping cold weather dogs like Huskys with their incredibly thick coats here in a place where the summer temperatures can reach 40Âșc.

All to guard their homes and to show off to their envious neighbours, I shouldn’t doubt.

Bah, humbug! So much for an objective look at guard dogs. I think I’ll stick to writing fun posts about two crazy little Yorkies instead from now on!

Terry Didcott
For Dogs