How Climate Change Impacts the Health of Our Pets

USA Today recently published an interesting article about all the different ways warming temperatures have a negative effect on the health of our dogs, cats, and other pets.

According to veterinary epidemiologists interviewed for the article, certain diseases, many of them spread by parasites, are moving into geographic areas not previously affected by them.

Here’s a brief rundown, but be sure to click the link above to read the full story.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

This is a bacterial illness spread by ticks.  Historically, it has been carried by the American dog tick.  Veterinarians are now reporting that this disease is being spread north by a new type of tropical tick (called the brown dog tick) that came to the US from South America.


Heartworm is a serious disease that is passed on to our pets through mosquito bites.  The worm larvae mature at faster rates in warmer temperatures.  Heartworm was traditionally a problem in the southern part of the US, but is now moving into other parts of the country that haven’t seen it before.

Lyme Disease

Like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme disease is also spread by ticks…usually the deer tick (also called the black legged tick).  Veterinarians report that Lyme disease is now moving north from the US into Canada.  The transmission season for Lyme and other diseases also gets longer as temperatures stay warmer for longer periods of time.

The article notes that climate change affects how these diseases are spread in multiple ways.  Besides the normal movement of parasites further north as temperatures warm, there are other ways they seem to be spreading.

One of the most significant is the movement of infected shelter pets from one part of the country to another.  This happens in the wake of climate-influenced natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires when displaced pets are relocated.

More shelter pets are also being transported around the country because there’s a greater demand for shelter pets as the sale of dogs and cats in retail pet stores is being banned in more places around the US.

Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to protect your pets from parasite borne illnesses in your area!


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