What animal diseases must you watch out for in Spain?

When you arrive in Spain with your dog and possibly decide to settle here, you will be confronted with totally different animal diseases than in England.

This is mainly due to different climate. In England one fights against tonsilitis and colds and we have the normal preventative vaccination.

Here in Valencia region, however, mainly mosquitos and ticks are the sources of various diseases:

• Leishmaniosis

• Erlichiosis (Rickettsia - same treatment)

• Dirifilaria (heartworm)

• Dirofilaria fascicosis, dirofilaria repens (a larva which is found in the blood but, relatively speaking, is not dangerous)

• Parvovirosis (viral infection of the intestine)

• Fleas and ticks

• Skin allergies caused by sand, dust swimming pool water

• High count of worms with abandoned dogs.


It is carried out and transmitted by sandfly which is active in summer between may and September. The sandfly is small, yellow and does not buzz and can also give us rather painful stings.

Leishmaniosis can manifest itself in many different forms.

Very often significant changes to the surface of the skin are to be seen and in the worst case the animal suffers kidney failure.

This disease is not curable , however, due to today’s medicaments the illness can be reduced considerably and thus prolong the dogs life for many years.


In rare cases a human can catch this disease.

The DOG, however, CANNOT transmit the disease to a person. This has been scientifically proven.

Only when the sandfly stings a person with very little immunity (e. g aids patients)can the disease be caught. Because we are all constantly being stung by the sandfly,it is clear that by nature we are protected against the fly through antibodies. This also has been scientifically proven(in the so called third world Leishmaniosis is widespread because bad living conditions which also lead to low immunity).

How can you protect your dog?

In Spain we have a vaccination against leishmaniosis since january 2012

Try to protect it from the sandfly!

• Use anti-insect lamps, devices etc...

• Spray mosquitoes with permetrina because sandflies are smaller than the mesh used on windows etc...

Permetrina is used to protect dogs from fleas and also from sandfly in the for of spot-on and collars.

• At night dogs should sleep indoors because the sandfly is most active at night time and the mountainous area here is an ideal breeding place for it

How can I detect Leishmaniosis?

These parasites can ONLY be detected through blood test!

It would be advisable to have blood taken, preferably in November o December to be able to react at an early stage to this disease.

What can i do if my dog already has Leishmaniosis?

The treatment consists mainly of three components:-

• Glucantim-These are injections which have to be given for two weeks.(These injections can sometimes cause strong side effects and are best given by your vet who can monitor the situation. Clearly there is difference of importance between the effect of this medicament for this illness which can result in death and the side effects caused which will disappear once the treatment is finished).

• Alopurinol-This is a medicament which has to be given for months, even years.(Alopurinol-as a rule-has no side effects).

• Aminosidina-Antibiotics which we have only used recently but successfully

• Vitamins.

• Prednisolon-In cases of kidney failure or similar.

• Domperidon  a new therapy which helps to stimulate the immunsystem


This is an illness transferred by ticks and also widely spread in the Mediterranean area. The tick transfers the bacteria-like cells into the bloodstream where these attack the red corpuscles and the thrombocytes ; this can suffer from tiredness, fever, unwell feeling and sometimes lose weight. In sever cases the bleeding can result in damage to the spinal marrow and joints .These bleedings can occur in any organ causing relates damage.

The Erlichiosis itself is usually curable.

What should be done?

• Use insect protection products against the ticks.

• If Erlichiosis is suspected have blood test done.

What can i do if my dog already has Erlichiosis.?

Treatment consists of two medicaments:-

• Imizol-injection, to be repeated after two weeks.

• Doxycyclin-specific antibiotics in tablet form(given for three weeks).

• (Side effect can be stomach/intestinal inflammation: therefore this antibiotic should ALWAYS be given with a load of food.)

• possibly also with a medicament to protect the stomach walls.

• Prednisolon-in cases of severe bleeding.

If the dog suffers from chronic illness (e.g. wounds which don’t heal), which in normal cases existing medicaments can usually handle, then a blood test should certainly be done in order to exclude Erlichiosis or Leishmaniosis.

Dirofilaria imitis or so called Heartworm ( Dirofilaria repens, Dirofilaria fascicolaris)

These are parasites, transferred by completely normal mosquitoes.

The larva multiplies in the blood and can be easily identified in a blood test.

Normally only the so called Heartworm larva is really dangerous.

Because different larva forms look similar a second examination is then necessary. This illness is not as widely spread as in some other areas, but there are always new cases.

What should be done?

The dog can be protected using medicaments.

The drug (Ivermectina) should be given once per month in tablet form (or as Spot On), as long as the mosquito is active or the dog stays in the risk area.

(Parvovirosis or viral stomach/intestine infection)

This illness certainly occurs everywhere and is indicated by severe diarrhoea, vomiting, and affects mainly puppies which have not yet been vaccinated. Because we have many animals here without homes and owners, this disease should be considered seriously.

Identifying it at an early stage and regular vaccination are the best protection. Unfortunately puppies cannot always be saved.

As a final word I would like to point out once more that in each country- north, south, east or west- other diseases are important.

For example in the north of Spain a different disease to here, transferred by ticks, accordingly requires different treatment methods. The best thing is to consult the local vet.

All of the above information is only to give you a better understanding of the various subjects. It is quite possible that explanations and treatment from your vet may deviate from mine.

Written by: Dr Nina Buschmann

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