Protect Your Family From Zoonotic Illnesses

Itchy dog
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Shining sun, outdoor play and the risk of disease: These all increase as the weather warms. But you don’t need to stay cooped up inside to prevent zoonotic diseases, which spread between pets and people. Armed with the right knowledge, you’ll be able to keep every member of your family — furry or not — healthy and enjoying the fresh air this summer. Use this information to get a discussion going with your veterinarian, and maybe your family physician, if you suspect your pet has contracted any of these diseases.

Disease: Mange

Caused by mite species including Sarcoptes scabiei.

How it’s transmitted among dogs: Direct contact with mites on an infected animal

Signs and complications in dogs: Itching, hair loss, bleeding or oozing skin

How your veterinarian detects it: Performing a physical examination of your pet and taking skin scrapings (a diagnostic test)

Preventing the disease in pets and people:

  • Clean pets’ bedding regularly.
  • Vacuum furniture and carpets regularly.
  • Keep pets on a monthly flea-and-tick-prevention product — many also kill mites — recommended by your veterinarian.

For more information read the Vetstreet article: Canine Sarcoptic Mange: More Common Than You Think.

Disease: Hookworm Infection

Hookworms are thick, short worms that are whitish to reddish brown with a hooked front end. They live in the gastrointestinal tract.

How it’s transmitted among dogs and cats: Through ingestion of larvae from contaminated environments, ingestion of infected prey and larval penetration of the skin. Puppies may also become infected during nursing.

Signs and complications in pets: Diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and ­deterioration of the skin and coat condition; adult dogs and cats may not show signs

How your veterinarian detects it: Performing a fecal examination and observing worm eggs under the microscope

Preventing the disease in pets and people: 

  • Promptly remove animal feces from your yard.
  • To limit pets’ exposure to contaminated environments, keep dogs on leashes or in a fenced area and keep cats indoors.
  • Deworm puppies as recommended by your veterinarian, then follow with a monthly parasite-prevention product.
  • Ask your veterinarian to perform fecal examinations at least once a year.
  • Cover children’s sandboxes when not in use.
  • Wear shoes and gloves when gardening.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after going outside. 

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