Animals are wonderful companions; however pet owners should be aware of illnesses that affect both humans and animals alike. It is important to be aware of such illnesses in order to protect the health of both you and your furry friend.
Rabies is a deadly virus for which there is no cure. It is spread through a bite, scratch or contact with mucous membranes from the saliva of an infected animal. We are currently experiencing a rabies outbreak in raccoons in Hamilton. Rabies prevention in your pets can be easily accomplished through vaccination by your veterinarian.
Animals that commonly carry Salmonella include turtles, iguanas and occasionally dogs and cats. Dog and cats fed raw or under-cooked pet food are at risk of contracting Salmonella and spreading it to their owners. Ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces is also a source of Salmonella, which manifests itself in the development of diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever.
Avoiding contaminated food and practicing good kitchen hygiene is a great way to prevent infection with Salmonella. If feeding your dog or cat a raw food diet, wash your hands after feeding them and avoid contact with their saliva or feces.
Leptosporosis is a bacterial infection that is spread by wildlife in Ontario. Approximately 1 in 2 skunks and 1 in 3 raccoons in Ontario carry the bacteria. The bacterium resides within the kidneys and is excreted in the animal’s urine. Animals transmitting Leptosporosis are commonly found roaming in our backyards and parks, meaning even our city pets are at risk of becominginfected. People and dogs are both susceptible to infection and transmission.
Although treatment is available, diagnosis can be difficult and is fatal if not identified. A Leptosporosis vaccination is available and important in preventing this disease in your dog.
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. It affects most animals and poses a great risk to unborn children. People can experience various degrees of illness ranging from flu-like symptoms and joint pain, with the majority going unnoticed. If the organism crosses the placenta, miscarriage or birth defects can result. These issues arise when a person is infected with Toxoplasma for the first time. Transmission occurs through ingestion of undercooked meat, raw milk or contact with contaminated cat feces.
Prevention involves cooking meat thoroughly, washing fruits and veggies and scooping cat feces promptly. Be sure to wash your hands immediately afterward cleaning the litter box.
Borrelia Burgdorferi, or Lyme disease, is a pathogen transmitted by the black legged deer tick (Ixodes Scapularis). Ticks must feed on their host for several hours to transmit the disease. Although contracted the same way, canine and human Lyme disease manifests differently. People typically develop a rash and/or flu-like symptoms within a few weeks of being bitten by an infected tick. Joint pain or neurological signs can also be experienced by some people. Dogs on the other hand may develop clinical signs of the disease weeks to months following infection. Fever and lameness are the most commonly demonstrated symptoms in dogs, with long- term effects including damage to the kidney.
Wearing light coloured clothes and insect repellant is a great way for people to help prevent tick bites. Oral and topical tick preventative options are available for your dog and can be obtained at your veterinarian. A vaccination for Lyme disease is also available for dogs to prevent infection in the event they are bitten by a deer tick.