Just like your annual spring cleaning, now is a good time to make sure your furry friends’ health records are up to date. Along with the warm weather, comes an increase in incidents of certain health threats to your dogs and cats. The good news is most are entirely preventable.
The rise in some diseases during warmer months may be due to a variety of factors. There are more animals venturing out into the nice weather increasing exposure and the spread of disease. Some diseases are spread by seasonal vectors influenced by the warm wet weather. Also, more people are going on vacation and boarding their dogs, which can increase the cases of kennel cough and other respiratory diseases. Keeping your dog or cat current on their annual vaccinations can prevent the majority of these conditions.
You might have heard recent reports of rabid skunks, foxes and raccoons in the Denver area. Although this is not unusual, the numbers this year are a bit alarming. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, So far this year, 144 animals from Colorado have tested positive for rabies. Although the majority of cases were rabid skunks, 53 of the rabid animals exposed 118 pets, 55 livestock and 26 people. Larimer and Weld counties have already counted 21 cases of rabid skunks this year. And in Pueblo in April, a puppy purchased on Craigslist died in Pueblo of rabies, sparking an emergency alert trying to find people who might have come in contact with the puppy. Rabies is spread through the bite (even a puppy nip if it breaks the skin) of a rabid animal. It is 99% fatal without immediate treatment.
Rabies was virtually eradicated in domestic pets since mandatory rabies vaccinations became common in the 60s and 70s. But complacency and antivaccination movements have helped it regain a foothold. It’s still rare, but without vigilance, it can become a bigger threat to your animals. Vaccination against rabies (yearly or every 2 years depending on the vaccine) will protect your cat or dog from contracting or spreading this disease.
Another threat that becomes more prevalent during warmer months is heartworm. That’s because it is transmitted by mosquitos. It used to be mostly a problem in southern states, but because of today’s very mobile society, it is now present in all 50 states. It can be prevented by monthly medication. However, it’s becoming harder and harder to guess when mosquito season is upon us and that, along with the worms’ complicated lifecycle, has led the American Heartworm Association to recommend 12-month prevention, not just during the summer months.
However, you must test your animal for the presence of heartworms prior to starting preventative medications, as giving the medication to a pet that already has the parasites can be dangerous even fatal. Heartworm can damage an animals heart and lungs, and if untreated, can lead to death.
Although these diseases can occur anytime, they are more common during the warmer months. Make sure your pets are protected from these and other conditions. Give Powell Veterinary Services a call to check on your furry friend’s health records and make an appointment to get them current.