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Vets warning over disease risk for dogs travelling on new pet passports

PUBLISHED: 16:11 10 July 2012

A dog with leishmaniasis, a disease transmitted by parasites found in sand flies. Picture: dogs-info.net

A dog with leishmaniasis, a disease transmitted by parasites found in sand flies. Picture: dogs-info.net

dogs-info.net

Vets have released a warning about a potentially fatal canine disease that can affect dogs travelling under new pet passports introduced earlier this year.

Staff at Zasman Vets in South End Road, Hampstead, have alerted dog owners planning to travel abroad with their pets this summer to the prevalence of leishmaniasis - a disease transmitted by parasites found in sand fly bites which are common in Southern Europe.

Although it can have several forms common symptoms in dogs have been described as hair and weight loss, skin disease, lameness and kidney failure. It can be fatal if not correctly diagnosed and treated.

It can also affect humans on a less severe basis and TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle risked facial deformity whilst suffering with the disease after he got bitten in South America.

Owners can reduce the risk of their dogs contracting fly and mosquito-borne diseases like leishmaniasis by using repellent collars. Dogs should also be kept indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes and midges are most active.

Chloe Dennis, a vet at Zasman, said there had been no cases at the practice yet this year but that infection rates are likely to increase as more people take their dogs on holiday following the introduction of the pet passport scheme in January this year.

She said: “In places like Spain and Italy which are home to sand flies it’s probably fairly common amongst dogs.”

Zasman Vets have urged those planning holidays with their dogs both in the UK and abroad to contact their vet at least two weeks prior to travel to ensure that adequate measures can be taken to help keep their pets safe.

If owners do suspect that their dog has been affected they should seek veterinary advice immediately.

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