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Posted on 09-06-2017

5 Ways to Protect Your Dog Against Certain Zoonotic Diseases:

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans. Minimize your dog’s risk of contracting certain zoonotic diseases by doing the following:

1. Vaccinate

We are fortunate to have canine vaccines available for several zoonotic diseases, including:

Vaccine needs will vary from one dog to the next, so it is important to discuss your dog’s individual needs with one of our veterinarians. Of course, rabies vaccines are legally required for all dogs and cats in the state of North Carolina. Lawndale Veterinary Hospital is holding a rabies vaccine clinic in honor of World Rabies Day on Thursday, September 28, 2017 from 8 AM to 5 PM. Vaccines will be $12 and walk-ins are welcome. Should your pet need other veterinary services though, please schedule an appointment.

2. Deworm

Routinely deworming pets can remove intestinal parasites, some of which may be zoonotic. Some of the more common intestinal parasites that can be zoonotic include roundworms and hookworms. Tapeworms that are transmitted by fleas can also pose a zoonotic risk, although less commonly (if the flea is ingested). There are other species of tapeworms found in wildlife that can also pose a zoonotic risk.

Thankfully, many heartworm preventives also contain some form of intestinal parasite dewormer that will cover one or more of the intestinal parasites listed above. Be sure to check your product’s labeling to see what intestinal parasites may also be covered.  

3. Flea and Tick Prevention

Year-round flea and tick prevention is best. Both fleas and ticks can transmit zoonotic diseases. Ticks can be difficult to find with tick checks alone, and fleas can create a problematic infestation in no time. Using flea and tick prevention year-round can save you a lot of time and money, and it can contribute to keeping your dog happy and healthy!

4. Annual Fecal and 4DX Testing

Annual fecal testing can help identify intestinal parasites that your dog may be harboring, even without showing any clinical signs. Annual 4DX testing not only looks for heartworm infection, but also the 4DX test screens for exposure to several tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis). Early identification of intestinal parasites and/or tick-borne disease will lead to earlier treatments (and hopefully more successful outcomes!).

5. Minimize the Potential for Contact with Wildlife

Wild animals can serve as reservoirs and transmitters of many zoonotic diseases. Here are some things you should know:

Fighting with wildlife: If your dog has physical contact with a wild animal, then your dog may be bitten or scratched. If that wild animal is rabid, then your dog can be exposed to the rabies virus through that contact. Dogs who are current on their rabies vaccine should get the rabies vaccine boostered within 72 hours of contacting wildlife. Dogs who are not current on their rabies vaccine will need to be quarantined, or possibly even euthanized depending on the situation – which is reason enough to keep that rabies vaccine current at all times!

Roaming in areas where wildlife live: Dogs who frequent rural or wooded areas may be more likely to come into contact with parasites (fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, etc.) and diseases that wildlife harbor or transmit (e.g. leptospirosis, rabies, etc.). Supervising animals, keeping up with wellness care (as mentioned above), and seeking veterinary care right away if problems occur are strategies to keep in mind.

Bat encounters: We have all heard stories about bats being found inside homes. Bats can carry rabies, so it’s best never to handle a bat that you find. If you find a bat somewhere in your home, close that room off and contact animal control for removal and rabies testing of the bat. Contact your local public health office or your physician to discuss what should be done for your family’s health. Animal control will also advise you on the next steps if you have pets, which will be dependent on whether or not your pet's rabies vaccine status is up-to-date. You can learn more and find resources about bats and rabies by visiting the One Health Commission's website.

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS, MS

Photo Credits: www.pixabay.com