Could Irma & Harvey threaten your pet’s health?
With recent hurricane activity in southern states, our local humane societies are taking in animals from those regions, and this influx of adoptable animals could threaten your pet’s health. As an example, in Texas, there was a recent outbreak of canine influenza just before Hurricane Harvey hit and the area was also experiencing heavy cases of Parvovirus. Our humane societies do a wonderful job of triaging and treating these refugee animals, but it is a good reminder for Portland area families to be cautious about exposure to their pets.
What you need to know:
Kennel cough is a contagious disease which most often causes coughing. Sneezing, nasal and eye discharge also may occur. Kennel cough is a broader term for a variety of viruses and bacteria which can cause a dog to cough. Generally, canine influenza has more severe clinical signs of low energy, fever, loss of appetite and dehydration and often requires more aggressive supportive care and hospitalization. Pet owners should be extra careful and cautious about suspected cases of kennel cough and limit exposure to their pets. There are vaccinations for canine influenza, Bordetella , and para-influenza (three types of kennel cough), which can be given for patients who have a higher risk of exposure including dogs that frequently visit dog parks, daycare, boarding facilities, groomers, or any other environment where multiple dogs are present.
Heartworm disease, while already present in Oregon, is more prevalent in southern states. An adoptable pet brought in from one of the affected states could act as a reservoir for local dogs. Heartworm disease can be detected with a basic blood test and humane societies will test dogs before adoption. We recommend that all dogs be tested annually and placed on a monthly heartworm preventative to protect them from this disease.
Parvovirus is readily shed in the vomit and diarrhea from sick pets. You should be extra cautious of pets who are showing these clinical signs, especially if they have been recently adopted, or are being fostered from a disaster area. The vaccine for parvovirus is effective, and is recommended for dogs every one to three years throughout their lives.
There are fungal and parasitic diseases that are not common in our area but thrive in warmer, more humid conditions. Fungal infections typically manifest in skin irritation and lesions and the experienced doctors at Murrayhill Veterinary Hospital are familiar with infections that may be seen in refugee pets.
To be sure that your pet is protected, ensure that they are current on all vaccinations and monthly preventative medications for heartworm, fleas and ticks. Avoid exposure to pets that are showing signs of coughing, vomiting and diarrhea and use caution when visiting places where there may be new dogs (like dog parks, daycare, and boarding facilities). If your pets are behind on vaccinations or you are unsure if they are up-to-date, schedule an appointment online today or call us at 503-579-3300.