Chagas Disease, a paracitic infection in Dogs

Chagas disease is an illness caused by a parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.  Once the parasite bites your dog it multiplies and eventually reaches the blood circulation, spreading to various organs but mainly the brain and heart.

Chagas disease is endemic in South and Central America, but it is also found in the United States, typically in in all southern states, most noted in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, California, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland.

Symptoms and Types

Two forms of Chagas disease in dogs: acute and chronic. Some dogs enter an extended asymptomatic stage (where no symptoms develop), which can last for years. During that time, there is a progressive and insidious development of the parasite, leading to the degeneration and inflammation of the heart, which can eventually cause heart failure and death.

Acute (typically dogs younger than 2)




Exercise intolerance

Walking difficulties

Rapid body jerks, seizures

Swollen lymph nodes

Increased heart rate (tachycardia)

Congestive heart failure (left and right-sided)

Chronic (typically older dogs)



Exercise intolerance

Increased heart rate (tachycardia)


With a detailed history your vet will then perform a complete physical examination as well as order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, serology and an electrolyte panel — all of which may demonstrate results common with parasitic infections.

X-Rays may indicate heart and pulmonary diseases, while an echocardiogram may show chamber or wall abnormalities. For example, atrioventricular block and right bundle branch block are seen in dogs with acute forms of the disease, whereas ventricular arrhythmias (which can then degenerate into various forms of ventricular tachycardia) are associated with chronic Chagas disease.


Although several drugs have shown somewhat limited improvement in dogs during the acute stage, none produce a “cure.” Unfortunately, even those that get treatment may progress to the chronic form of the disease.

Dogs with Chagas disease and sudden heart complication have a guarded prognosis, while those with chronic forms of the disease typically have a more dismal outcome.

Remember, we are simply attempting to get information out to dog owners, we are not stating we are experts in Chagas Disease but simply passing on information we determine is appropriate for those who own our dogs.  I also found the following:

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