Leishmaniasis, what is it?
One of the consequences of global warming is the spread, in northern regions, of diseases traditionally found in tropical or sub-tropical areas. This is the case for certain diseases transmitted by insects that can now survive in countries with continental climates.
One such disease is leishmaniasis, a life-threatening infection transmitted by a mosquito-like biting insect – the sandfly – usually found in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The mosquito carries a protozoan parasite responsible for the disease. Traditional cases involve dogs living in that areas or dogs from northern regions infected during holidays. But now that the sandfly mosquitoes are spreading further north, there are reports of dogs infected up to southern Germany.
To help prevent diseases like leishmaniasis or borreliosis (transmitted by ticks), repellents such as Eat Small Solid Shampoo for dogs with essential oils can be used against biting parasites.
Leishmaniasis is a disease with very different symptoms from one dog to another and with also a variable evolution. There may be transient and non-specific signs at first, such as lethargy and fever, but the next clinical signs may take from a few months, even a few years, to appear. And some dogs never have any problems at all. The most obvious signs are skin problems ranging from localized ulcers to painful scabs and ulcerations, often involving mucocutaneous junctions (around the eyes, or nostrils) or even hair loss all over the body. There is a serious visceral form where the kidneys are affected (leading to kidney failure). Without treatment, the systemic disease is fatal in up to 90% of cases.
Help! My dog has been diagnosed with leishmaniasis!
Leishmaniasis is unfortunately chronic and not curable. This means that the parasite will always remain in the dog’s body and the four-legged friend will need to be monitored and treated for the rest of his life. The medication used to control the disease is Allopurinol. Its action is to prevent the reproduction of the parasites and thus reduce their devastating action in the body. With this treatment, the symptoms of leishmaniasis are usually successfully controlled – even if relapses sometimes occur.
A side effect of Allopurinol treatment is however that the dog loses its ability to properly break down purines, a class of amino acids which come from ingested proteins. Purines are used to make the cells’ DNA and RNA, and the excess from the diet must be broken down into secondary components (xanthine, then uric acid) and eliminated in the urine. Allopurinol prevents this breakdown and promotes the formation of xanthine stones in the kidneys and bladder, often accompanied by pain, infection and blockage of the urethra.
A low-purine dog food: WALD with insect protein.
To reduce the risk of xanthine stones, a dog treated with Allopurinol must consume a diet low in purines. This is problematic because purines are found in large quantities in most meat proteins and therefore in the vast majority of dog foods.
Some low purine diets have been specially developed for veterinarians to help them in the treatment of leishmaniasis in their patients. Such diets have a purine content between 20 to 60 mg/100g.
A good news for dogs suffering from leishmaniasis is that the insect proteins from Hermetia illucens (black soldier fly) are low in purines. Eat Small WALD dog food with insects contains 30% Hermetia as sole animal proteins and has an ideal purine content of 34,8mg/100g*, perfect for a dog who requires a low purine diet.
WALD dog food also contains amaranth, sweet potatoes and pumpkin seeds, as well as wild berries and sunflower, rapeseed and linseed oil. It is not only delicious, nutritious and natural, but thanks to the eco-friendly and sustainable insect proteins, it helps reduce meat consumption, and production, for your dog’s food and thus your dog’s ecological footprint.
This helps to reduce global warming and, consecuently, the spread of diseases such as leishmaniasis in northern regions of Europe. With Eat Small – Insect Power, everyone wins, especially your dog and the environment!
** Before using a low purine diet, be sure that the information on the purine content is given by the producer. If the information doesn’t appear, it is advisable to change the product.
Véronique Glorieux is a canadian-board veterinarian who cumulates more than 10 years of medical work and experience with dogs and cats. Animal wellfare and environment are 2 topics that moves her. She lives now in Berlin, where she co-founded Eat Small and uses her experience in a different field of practice. With healthy and sustainable insect-based pet food she aims to support both the health of pets and of the planet.