Recently I wrote a post about my little neighbor dog, Rudy, who came down with Valley Fever. The disease attacked his central nervous system and left him with multiple fainting spells every day. One of the readers of Lessons From A Paralyzed Dog contacted me saying that Rudy’s symptoms were very similar to dogs who contract Chagas Disease. She asked that I let pet owners know about this growing disease that can be deadly to your dog.
Chagas Disease is an infection that attacks humans, dogs and other animals. It’s caused by the Trypanosoma Cruzi, a single cell parasite that lives in blood sucking insects like the Reduvid bug (kissing bug), mosquitos and ticks. It is one of the few diseases that can be transmitted from a dog to a person.
While Chagas Disease may be unfamiliar to most of us, it is the 4th leading cause of death in Latin America for people and a major cause of death for countless dogs.
The Symptoms Are:
- Irregular heart beat
- Pale gums
- A general state of weakness
- It also attacks the heart when the parasite settles in and multiplies causing arrhythmias and swelling of the heart muscle.
Dogs that come down with Chagas Disease are usually hospitalized and kept in isolation because it is very contagious. Medical treatment is available, but not all dogs respond – especially if the disease isn’t diagnosed early.
The founder of All About Chagas Disease created his website after his beloved Mastiff died of the disease in 2006. Two weeks after being infected, the Mastiff’s heart, nerves, muscles and brain were riddled with the disease.
All About Chagas Disease reported the ELISA and IFAT tests can detect the condition, but most veterinarians don’t routinely run these tests and because Chagas can resemble other illnesses, it often goes undiagnosed until it is too late. The website urges pet owners to be advocates for their dogs if they know their pet has been exposed to mosquitos, ticks or kissing bugs.
Chagas Disease is a growing problem in many southwest states. In Texas alone, statistics show that more than 400 dogs have died. One way to protect your dog is with a collar treated with Deltamethrin to keep away insects.
Now that you know about the signs and symptoms of Chagas Disease I wanted to share an early update on my buddy Rudy. The little toy poodle is still suffering from daily fainting spells, but his family has seen a slight improvement in his condition. They are slowly seeing signs of Rudy’s personality returning. Last week they were thrilled when he barked and tried to chase a rabbit in his yard. It is expected to take up to one year for little Rudy to be back to normal.