Symptoms of Chagas Disease in Dogs

Chagas disease is an infection that affects humans and may also be seen in canines and other animals. The disease results after the infection with Trypanosoma protozoa. If your pet is diagnosed with this infection, you should be cautious, as it is zoonotic, so you may catch the disease. In dogs, the infection can be deadly, as it will affect the heart and the smooth muscles. Detecting early symptoms is essential to apply treatment in a timely manner.

Causes of Chagas Disease

Chagas disease in dogs is caused by the presence of a parasite that typically reaches the blood flow through insect bites. Reduvid bugs (a.k.a. kissing bugs), mosquitoes, ticks and other blood sucking insects are known to spread the infection. The infection may also be transmitted from mother to puppies.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease

The symptoms of chagas disease may be milder or more severe, depending on the stage of the infection and your pet’s health and immune system reaction. The initial symptoms of the dog may include:

  • Fever
  • Fainting
  • Irregular pulse and heart beat
  • Pale gums
  • A general state of weakness

The protozoa will multiply inside the cells and when affecting the heart, they may cause myocarditis and cardiac arrhythmia. Myocarditis is the swelling of the heart muscles and may cause an irregular pulse and low blood pressure. Cardiac arrhythmia manifests through irregular heart beat.

Some dogs affected by the chagas disease may not show any symptoms and may die suddenly.

Diagnosing Chagas Disease

An ELISA and an IFAT test will be performed to detect the presence of the parasites in the dog’s system. The parasites may also be detected in the dog’s blood flow and in the feces. The vet may also assess if the heart is affected and established how advanced the infection is.

Treatment Options

There is treatment available for Chagas disease, but not all canines respond to this and often, there are serious side effects reported. The dog can be put on IV fluids and receive medication for the heart condition, if the heart is affected. Deltamethrin treated collars will be recommended to infested dogs and the collars should eliminate the insects that transmit the Trypanosoma protozoa to other pets. The infected dog should be hospitalized and kept under surveillance. Ideally, the dog should be kept in an isolated environment.

Prevention of Chagas Disease in Humans and Canines

The chagas disease may be transmitted from canines to humans, especially if you have mosquitoes or other blood sucking insects in your household. You should eliminate all insects from your home using efficient insecticides. Avoid direct contact with the dog’s feces, which may also contain parasites. In rare cases, the parasite may be transmitted through a dog bite, provided the pet is a carrier of the disease.

In dogs, the chagas disease may be prevented by giving the dog a Deltamethrin treated collar, which will keep away the insects that may carry the parasite larvae.