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Most summer days are filled with outdoor activities and times
spent on vacation. As the summer months starts to approach, it is
necessary to understand the types of diseases that may affect your
pets when they travel. So, if you're the outdoor type and you like
to take your pet with you, your pet may be bringing home more than
memories as you venture through fields and streams.
When traveling, there are some diseases your pet may encounter
says Dr. Leon Russell, professor at the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. If there is a
possibility of contact with mosquitoes, ticks, or stagnant water
during your travels, Russell says to take certain precautions.
If dogs and cats come into contact with mosquitoes they could be
subjected to heartworm disease.
"Heartworm disease poses a threat to pets across the United
States because no state is entirely heartworm-free," Russell
explains. "In areas where heartworm disease is highly endemic in
dogs, up to 20 percent of the cats may also have the disease."
Heartworm preventative medicine is available, but pets should be
tested before they receive it.
Possible contact with wild animals could expose your pet to
"Effective vaccination of dogs and cats to prevent rabies is
available and should always be kept current," says Russell.
Rabies is transmitted by a bite from an infected animal and The
Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that more than 90 percent
of all animal cases reported annually to the CDC now occur in
Water activities are fun, but certain waters may be infested
with bacteria that could cause harm to your pet. According to
Russell mud, muddy water, and stagnant water are prime sources for
exposure to leptospira. This bacterial organism can enter the body
through cuts, mucous membranes, eyes, or by ingesting contaminated
water. Russell encourages a yearly vaccination with the appropriate
strain of leptospirosis vaccine to reduce your pet's chance of
contracting this disease.
Giardiasis is another disease that is caused by a waterborne
parasite found in untreated water such as creeks and ponds. It also
occurs in mountainous areas where water supplies have become
contaminated by infected animal feces.
"Chlorination of surface water will not prevent this disease,"
cautions Russell. "Presently there are drugs to treat giardiasis,
but none to prevent this intestinal disease."
Borreliosis, or Lyme Disease, is an infection caused by a
bacteria that is spread by the bite of an infected tick, and the
disease is endemic in some areas of the United States explains
Russell. Symptoms include fever, rash, listlessness, muscle
stiffness, lack of appetite, and in severe cases arthritic-type
"The best method of prevention is to avoid tick infested woods,
brush, and tall grass," Russell believes. "Highly effective
tick control products such as sprays, collars, and spot-on
treatments are available through your veterinarian."
Annual vaccination of your dog against the Lyme Disease is
recommended if you live in or plan to visit endemic Lyme Disease
areas in the United States. Check with your veterinarian about the
need for the vaccination of your pets.
Russell suggests that once you return home, your pet should
visit the veterinarian for examination to make sure no internal or
external parasites were picked up while traveling.
"An examination is important, because worms can hide and they
may not be detected until they cause a clinical disease,"
Russell adds "Ticks can be too small to be easily seen by the
untrained eye. They must be eliminated before they transmit
diseases such as Lyme Disease, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain
"Also, avoid environments with ticks and mosquitoes (dawn and
dusk) and allow your pet to swim only in clear, flowing water such
as rivers or lakes," notes Russell. "Be sure to bypass ponds or
Time spent travelling with loved ones is important, but it is
even more important to take the necessary precautions during
vacation to avoid any pitfalls when you return home.
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