For pet owners and their four-legged friends, interacting with other dogs provides great opportunities for exercise and socialization.
Whether it's playing at the dog park, hiking through the woods, strolling around town or making new friends at doggy daycare, these activities can improve your dog's mental and physical well-being. They can also put your dog at risk for exposure to health threats.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION...
"We all love getting out of the house with our furry friends but it's important to remember that serious danger lurks in the grass, community water bowl, or - if you travel with your dog - in another city," advises Julia Szabo, pet lifestyle expert. "With the right knowledge, advice from your trusted veterinarian, and some simple preventive measures, it's easy to keep your outdoorsy dog happy and healthy year-round."
WHAT PET OWNERS NEED TO KNOW TO PROTECT THEIR DOGS
- Ensure your dog's vaccinations are up to date.
- Always discuss your pet's lifestyle with your veterinarian to identify potential health risks and preventive measures.
- Remember to mention travel if your dog goes on the road with you, as other areas of the country may represent different health threats than what you face at home.
- Keep your pet away from wild animals, as they often carry disease, and don't allow your dog to drink from unclean water sources given that certain diseases can be spread there.
- Check regularly for ticks, which will help reduce the risk of disease transmission. Lyme disease, for example, can impact your pet's health, as well as your own.
- Fleas don't just live on your pet; they also live in your home. Vacuuming thoroughly can reduce the number of flea larvae and eggs in the home environment and help reduce flea infestations. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag in a garbage bag and discard it in an outdoor trash container.
"Fleas and ticks are year-round hazards in many areas of the country, so it's critical to talk to your veterinarian about choosing the right product to protect your pets from these parasites and keep them out of homes," recommends Szabo. "BRAVECTO® (fluralaner) is the only oral chew to deliver flea and tick protection to dogs for up to 12 full weeks. Bravecto kills fleas, prevents flea infestations, and kills ticks (black-legged tick, American dog tick, and brown dog tick) for 12 weeks. It also kills lone star ticks for 8 weeks.
CANINE INFLUENZA: AN INCREASING HEALTH THREAT
You can get the flu but did you know your dog can as well? It's called canine influenza (CIV) – or dog flu – and cases of it have been popping up all over the country. In fact, canine influenza has impacted dogs in more than half the country – just since March 2015 – and new cases are being diagnosed every week.
There are two strains of canine influenza present in the dog population – H3N8 and H3N2, the latter is an Asian strain of CIV and is brand new in the United States. Because CIV is so contagious, infection can spread quickly among social dogs.
Vaccinating for both strains of CIV and minimizing exposure to potential risk factors are critical to protecting your pet.
KNOW YOUR DOG'S RISK. DOES YOUR DOG:
- Play at dog parks?
- Visit doggie day care?
- Board or stay at a pet hotel?
- Visit a groomer?
- Attend dog shows or other social events with dogs?
- Greet other dogs during walks?
"I've seen the devastating impact of CIV first hand - both on a dog's health and the emotional toll it takes on owners," said veterinarian Natalie Marks, DVM, and co-owner of the Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago. "When CIV H3N2 broke in our area, we were seeing upwards of 15 cases a day at times and were scrambling to stop the spread of this very contagious disease. Now we know what we are dealing with and are able to protect at-risk dogs through vaccination and other measures. I strongly recommend that pet owners with dogs that are social and regularly commingle with other dogs speak to their veterinarian now about what is right for their pet and to fully understand what puts a dog at risk for CIV."
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, talk with your veterinarian to determine whether CIV vaccination is appropriate for your dog.