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

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!

 

The 8 Most Common Canine Health Problems

A large-scale study of dogs in the UK has identified the most common canine health disorders seen by veterinarians.

The electronic health data of over 450,000 dogs under veterinary care in the UK was analyzed by researchers conducting this study.

Let’s take a look at some key findings.  Be sure to check out the full report, published in BMC Veterinary Research HERE.

The 8 most common canine health problems are:

  • Anal sac disorder
  • Conjunctivitis (eye infection)
  • Dental disease
  • Dermatitis (skin problems)
  • Overweight or obese
  • Lipoma (fatty tissue growth)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Otitis externa (ear infection)

The researchers note that some of these health conditions are more prevalent than others, while some tend to be more severe or longer lasting than others.

Most prevalent health issues:

  • Dental disease
  • Overweight or obese
  • Anal sac disorder

Most severe health problems:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Otitis externa
  • Dermatitis

Health issues with longest duration:

  • Dental disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overweight or obese

Which canine health disorders were found to have the greatest overall negative impact on a dog’s well-being?

  • Dental disease
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Overweight or obese

The good news is that many of the most common canine health problems are preventable!  Regular dental care, both at home and at the vet’s office, is essential to your dog’s dental health.

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise can prevent obesity and other associated health problems.  A healthy body weight can also help ease the discomfort of arthritis.

Be sure to talk to your vet about ways you can work together to maintain your dog’s health and prevent these common health problems.

 

Meet FACE Success Story Zeus!

This handsome fellow is a 9 month old Siberian Husky pup named Zeus.  Zeus and his human dad were unfortunately involved in a car accident recently.  The car was totaled but luckily Zeus’s dad was unhurt.

Zeus initially seemed fine too, although he was tossed about a little in the back seat.  It was only later at home that he began to show signs that he was unwell.  His veterinarian diagnosed Zeus with intussusception, a condition where one segment of the intestines slides (or “telescopes”) into another.

Zeus required surgery to fix his urgent medical problem, and the combination of an unexpected car accident and a veterinary emergency were financially difficult for his family to handle.

With the help of a grant from FACE, Zeus was able to get the surgery he needed and is now back at home recovering with his family!

 

How to Find Quality Pet Nutrition Information Online

Pet owners commonly seek out dog and cat food information online, whether it’s product reviews, advice on alternative diets, or how to manage your pet’s weight.

But how do you know if the information you are looking at is trustworthy and accurate?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has created two helpful guides for finding quality dog and cat nutrition information online.

 

Here are a few important tips (be sure to check out the full guides and other great pet resources on the WSAVA website):

  • Research the credentials of authors of the materials you are reading.  Advice from a certified veterinary nutritionist is more reliable than information put out by pet owners and pet food companies.
  • Be aware if a website’s address is a .com (commercial), .edu (educational), or .org (non-profit).  This can make a difference in the quality of the information.
  • Check to see if any statements or claims are backed up by legitimate sources.  Does the article link to any references, and are they quality references?  Research studies are better sources than promotional materials.

  • Make sure the information you are reading is recent and up to date, as veterinary medicine is always changing.
  • Be especially careful of any anecdotal information, such as pet owners stating that their pets were “cured” by a particular product.

  • Many articles about the “best” pet foods or ones that rate pet foods come from websites that get financial compensation if you click on a product link (such as Amazon affiliate websites).  View these sites with plenty of caution.
  • When in doubt about any information about pet nutrition you find online…ask your veterinarian for guidance and advice!