It’s the time of year when your pet is going to start spending more time outdoors. You may not give much thought to who he shares that space with—but you should. From deer and coyotes to foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons, wild animals can pose a serious threat as they carry a variety of diseases that can be transmitted to pets and people. Springtime parasite safety for your dog is definitely something you want to think about.
- Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the brain. It can affect any warm-blooded animal, including dogs, cats, and humans. It is almost always fatal.
- All mammals can contract rabies, but some are more susceptible than others. Foxes, skunks, and raccoons are particularly prone to rabies and can be carriers. The disease is transmitted by the bite of a rabid animal to another mammal.
- The best way to prevent rabies is to have your pet vaccinated. For more information visit pet vaccinations.
- Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects livestock, wildlife, companion animals, and humans. Symptoms of the disease can vary, but common signs include fever, lethargy, and vomiting. The disease can be fatal if left untreated or even if treatment is delayed.
- Leptospirosis is most commonly transmitted through standing water or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Pets at particularly high risk include those who frequent dog parks, visit hiking trails or other nature areas that have an increase in wildlife traffic, or spend any time outdoors, even if only in the yard. Pets that are walked in common areas such as apartment complexes or busier neighborhoods are also at great risk.
- A vaccine is available to protect your pet against leptospirosis infection. In addition, be sure not to let your pet drink from standing water and avoid any areas that may be contaminated.
- Tapeworms are long, flat worms that live in your pet’s intestines.
- In order to become infected with tapeworms, your pet must ingest a flea that contains tapeworm eggs. This process begins when fleas are accidentally ingested upon licking or chewing the skin. The flea is digested within your pet’s intestine and the tapeworm hatches, anchoring itself to the intestinal lining. We are seeing an increased number of pets with fleas every year, even in the city.
- Tapeworm infections are treated with a deworming medication that kills the worms within the intestines.
- The most effective way to prevent infections in pets and humans is through aggressive and thorough flea control.
- Giardia is a parasite that lives in the intestines and is passed in the feces. In some humans and animals, it can cause diarrhea and cramping known as Giardiasis. Anything that comes in contact with feces from infected humans or animals can be contaminated with the Giardia parasite.
- Wildlife including beavers, muskrats, deer, coyotes, and rodents are frequent carriers of Giardia. Pets may become infected after drinking from puddles or ponds or swallowing infected stool from other animals. Signs of Giardia infection include diarrhea, greasy stools, and dehydration.
- Giardiasis can be treated with medication; however, this parasite can persist in the environment and lead to reinfection. Because of this, environmental disinfection is also critical.
Tick Transmitted Diseases
- Ticks are blood-feeding external parasites that can attach to both animals and humans and spread transmit numerous bacterial diseases, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
- Ticks are unable to jump and instead find their hosts through a behavior called “questing.” Questing ticks perch on leaves or blades of grass with their front legs extended, waiting to climb onto a host that brushes past. They can easily grab a hold of your pet’s fur as he travels through particularly grassy, bushy, or wooded areas. The tick then burrows down through the hair where it attaches to the skin.
- When it comes to preventing ticks and the diseases they spread, consistent parasite control is key. In addition, you should always examine your pet thoroughly after hikes or other outdoor activities. If you find a tick on your pet, it is important to remove it as soon as possible, if you are unsure or unable to remove it yourself please call your vet for assistance.
- A Lyme disease vaccine may be also be recommended for pets who are highly exposed to ticks.