How to Protect Your Dog from 2 Contagious Outdoor Diseases This Summer
By DR. DAVID DILMORE
Summer is here, and if you're a dog owner, that means going on runs, hikes and trips to the dog park. Taking your pets to new areas may bring them, and you, into contact with zoonotic diseases -- contagious diseases that can spread between animals and people -- such as Lyme disease and giardiasis.
1. Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria that is transmitted by infected deer ticks. While the disease cannot be passed directly between humans and pets, the ticks can attach themselves to both. That means if your pet is exposed to infected ticks, you are at risk as well.
The deer ticks that carry Lyme disease are most commonly found in Northeastern and upper Midwest states and usually live in grassy or wooded areas. Dogsand their owners that live in or travel to these areas are most likely to become infected.
According to Banfield Pet Hospital's State of Pet Health 2014 Report, since 2009, "there has been a 21 percent increase in the prevalence of infection with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in dogs," and it has been diagnosed in the 43 states covered by the study.
Tips to protect yourself and your pet from Lyme disease:
1. Check yourself and your pet for ticks when you return from a potentially affected area and remove any ticks that you see immediately. Ticks typically need to be attached for 24 hours or more to transmit the disease.
2. Use a year-round tick preventive for your pet.
3. There is a vaccine available that can prevent the infection if a tick attaches to your dog. Your veterinarian can recommend the best options based on your pet's lifestyle and where you live.
Giardia is a microscopic parasite that attaches to the lining of the small intestine, causing a diarrheal disease called giardiasis. Infection can occur through contact with food, water or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal.
Some dogs may not show any signs of infection, but severe diarrhea is the most common symptom. Giardia is also the most common intestinal parasite that affects people in the United States and is more prevalent in Northeast and Central states.
Tips to protect yourself and your pet from Giardia infection:
1. Keep your pet away from animal feces and wildlife when outside.
2. Prevent your pet from drinking from ponds, streams and puddles.
3. When taking your pet on hikes or to dog parks, bring a clean source of water and a bowl.
4. Dispose of all feces to prevent contamination and reinfection. The parasite can live in the environment for extended periods of time, which can lead to contamination of your yard if your pet is infected.
Lyme disease and giardiasis are only two of many diseases your pet could contract while outdoors. Talk to your veterinarian about the diseases that can affect your pet as well as ways to prevent those most prevalent in your area. You can learn more about these and other infectious diseases by visiting StateofPetHealth.com.
--Dr. David Dilmore
Readers -- Do you have dogs or cats? What do you do to keep you pets safe during the summer? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
Dr. David Dilmore graduated from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999 and joined Banfield Pet Hospital in 2004. He was the chief of staff at a Denver, Colorado, animal hospital for five years and worked three years as the medical director for northern Colorado. For the past two years, Dr. Dilmore has been the medical editor for Banfield. He and his wife, Heather, have a 16-year-old Australian Shepherd named Gus.