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Kissing Bugs: A Small Critter That Is A Big Danger To Dogs

Texas is home to a stunning array of wildlife. While some of our native critters are beautiful and/or beneficial, there are some others we could do without, such as the tick and the kissing bug. The kissing bug may have a cute sounding name, but they can be very dangerous for your canine friend. Kissing bugs carry a bloodborne parasite that transmits Chagas disease, a zoonotic disease that can affect both people and pups. Read on for more information from a White Rock, TX vet.

Transmission

Chagas disease is widespread in Latin America. However, it has only fairly recently made its way to the States. The disease can cause several serious health issues, such as heart failure. It’s spread by—you guessed it—kissing bugs, which are also known as Mexican Kissing Beetles, Cone Nosed Bugs, or Chinches. These bugs often sometimes bite people (and pets) who are asleep. If you are bit, you would notice the bites around your mouth and eyes. Dogs can also catch it by eating infected rodents or insects or, in rare cases, via blood transfusion.

If you know or suspect that you have been bitten by a kissing bug, contact your doctor immediately. You’ll also want to call your veterinarian.

Signs

The signs of chagas disease vary quite a bit. You may notice Fido acting lethargic. He may also lose interest in food, which can of course lead to weight loss. More serious symptoms include fainting, vomiting, and diarrhea. In more advanced cases, coughing and shortness of breath may also occur. It’s worth pointing out that there are three phases of this disease: acute, latent, and chronic. In any of these stages, sudden death is possible. However, many infected dogs are asymptomatic.

Treatment

Unfortunately, there’s no standard protocol when it comes to treating dogs for Chagas disease. Your vet may recommend specific medications or treatments during the acute and latent stages. However, in the chronic stage, treatment is usually focused on managing the issues caused by the disease, such as heart failure. Ask your vet for more information.

Prevention

There is no vaccination or product available to protect from Chagas disease. The best option is to be on the lookout for kissing bugs. If you spot any, consult a professional pest control service.

As your local White Rock, TX veterinary clinic, we’re here to help! Call us anytime!

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