Vets urge dog owners to be ‘extra vigilant’ on checks on imported animals

A veterinary specialist is urging dog lovers and other vets to be extra vigilant with health checks on animals imported from southern Europe or pets who’ve travelled to the region.

Andrea Holmes, a European diplomate in internal medicine at Paragon Veterinary Referrals, in Wakefield, recently managed a case of a four-year-old, mixed breed dog brought to the UK from Spain. 

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The dog, called Salem, was taken to Paragon underweight and showing signs of Leishmania, a blood-borne infection which is prevalent in southern Europe. 

Holmes said Salem had been rescued from a Spanish animal sanctuary and showed “typical signs” of Leishmania, including loss of hair around the eyes and ear tips, severe weight loss and lethargy. 

She said: “It’s an infection which is endemic in southern Europe and is spread by infected sand flies in the region. It can’t be cured but, in most cases, it can be controlled.After thorough investigations at Paragon, Salem was found to have poor control of her Leishmania infection and additional treatment was needed. 

“The recommended treatment was a course of daily injections for one month. The medication was imported from Europe and Salem’s owners were given training in how to administer the injections. Salem significantly improved in her attitude and weight. She gained almost 5kg and is now a very healthy weight and she is more playful than ever.”

She added: “We’ll be monitoring her closely with blood and urine tests to look for signs of relapse in the future but, right now, we are delighted with her response to treatment.” 

Now, Holmes is keen to alert people in the UK to the threat of Leishmania, especially if they are considering importing dogs from the continent or taking their own animal to affected areas. 

She said: “Anyone thinking of importing a dog from the South of Europe should ensure detailed health checks are carried out first. Similarly, people taking their pets to the region should be alert to Leishmania and fully aware of the symptoms.”

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