VET’S VIEW: Going abroad? Be sure to visit your vet first...

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LEISHMANIASIS is an infectious disease spread by the bite of the sandfly, which occurs commonly in Mediterranean coastal regions.

Affected dogs often show skin lesions, such as hair loss and ulceration, and conjunctivitis. They may lose weight and have a fever, and the disease can prove fatal if left untreated.

Early treatment is effective at reducing the signs, but rarely eliminates the infection completely.

A vaccine is available against the disease, but while it can reduce the signs of illness, it does not prevent infection with the parasite, so keeping the sandfly away from your dog is the best solution.

You can buy collars and spot-on preparation that will do this, and it is also advisable, while abroad, to keep your pet indoors between 7pm and 7am from May to October, when the sandflies are active.

Leishmaniasis is only one of a number of diseases your pet may be exposed to while travelling, especially in southern Europe, so it makes sense to be prepared.

Visit your vet at least three weeks ahead of travel, so you can:

• Discuss with your vet the countries where you are travelling and what specific health risks your pet may be exposed to

• Check your pet is fit to travel, that vaccinations are up to date, and the microchip is working properly

• Discuss preventative treatments to protect your pet against ticks, sandflies, heartworm and tapeworm while abroad and be shown how to administer them

Further information is contained in a handy leaflet, which can be downloaded from the BVA’s Animal Welfare Foundation at www.bva-awf.org.uk

• Peter Brown, of Northdale Veterinary Practice, writes the Herald & Gazette’s Vet’s View column. A local man, whose family history can be traced back to the 1700s in Worthing, Peter took over the practice 26 years ago. What was a one-man operation is now a thriving six-vet practice.