Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Are you at risk?

I know I've talked about zoonotic disease (diseases that pass from people to animals) before, but it's so important I thought we'd do it again. I get all kinds of calls about this because nobody talks about it. So here goes.....

Here are some questions you need to ask yourself, and be honest!

Do you have contact with animals?

Are those animals vaccinated for rabies?

Do those animals have contact with other animals....Birds, raccoons, feral cats, loose dogs?

Are you young? Do you have a disease or on medication that suppresses your immune system? Are you an older adult?

Do you wash your hands after handling your pet, or their waste? (Really wash?)

Is your pet dewormed on a regular schedule?

Do you apply flea and tick medication to your pet?

Do you travel with your pet?

Do you use mosquito repellent on yourself?

Do you wear gloves when you garden?

Do you cover the children's sandbox when not in use, or cover pools that can collect water?

Do you feed your pet raw meat?

Do you clean your cat's litter box daily?

Are you overwhelmed? Don't be. The purpose of this list is not to scare you, it's not supposed to. The intent is for you to think about these things so that you don't take unnecessary risks. Now talk to your veterinarian about your specific risk. And if you have a medical condition, make sure your doctor knows what type of pets you have at home.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lyme Disease Facts: Dogs Are Not Humans

One of the jokes that is constant through veterinary school is that cats are not small dogs. As a student, you try to make as many similarities as possible between the two species because the volume of information can be overwhelming at times. It's also why most veterinarians own a shirt at some point in their careers that says "Real Doctors Treat More Than One Species".

Which brings me to today's topic: Lyme Disease. Many people know that ticks carry Lyme Disease, but they are only familiar with the human signs. And with good reason, it can be deadly in humans. However, some dogs may be carriers and show no or vague signs thus leaving a reservoir of risk right in their home.

So here they are: Things You Need to Know About Lyme Disease:

Dog's do not get the "Bull's eye" rash.
It generally takes 60 days from the time of infection to time signs show up so there is no acute inflammation at the site of the tick bite.

Clinical signs of Lyme Disease in the dog are vague and confusing.
Signs include: painful joints, lameness, fever, loss of appetite.

Dogs do not only show signs of Lyme Disease during the summer.
Signs can take up to 6 month to show up.

About 90% to 95% of dogs that acquire the disease will never show signs.

Human Lyme disease has been reported in all 50 states.
You do not live in an area that is free from Lyme Disease.

A tick must feed for about 50 hours before they can transmit the disease.
This means you can prevent most cases of this disease with a good tick product (Frontline, for example).

Infected dogs may still carry the parasite after treatment.
Treatment will help with clinical signs, but may not rid the dog of the parasite.

There is a vaccine available.
You should talk to your veterinarian to see if the vaccine is right for your dog.