Protecting Your Pet from Infections


Pets are wonderful creatures, and it’s impossible not to love them. However, just like humans, pets can suffer from illness and become infected with pathogens that can cause them harm and even kill them.

To keep your pet healthy and happy, it’s important to learn the signs of infections so you can treat them early on and ensure they’re protected from dangerous pathogens before they have time to develop.


Most Common Tick-Borne Diseases

There are many different tick-borne diseases that can affect both humans and pets. One of the most common infections is Lyme disease, which is transmitted by the black-legged tick.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dogs are among those most commonly infected with Lyme disease.

The ticks that transmit Lyme disease may also carry other diseases such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis, so it’s important to be aware of what might be hiding in your pet’s fur.

Other illnesses can be transmitted through contact with rodents or squirrels, coming into contact with urine or feces from an infected animal, or inhaling infectious particles in the air.

These infections should not go untreated since they could lead to more serious health problems like meningitis or a chronic neurological condition known as encephalitis.

It’s especially important for families who have children under six years old living in the household to regularly check their furry friends for any signs of infection.

If you think your pet has been exposed to one of these illnesses, don’t wait! Contact your veterinarian immediately for treatment options.


Giardia and Other Waterborne Diseases

While Giardia is the most well-known, there are other waterborne diseases that also affect pets. They include intestinal infections, like giardia and cryptosporidium, and bacterial infections such as salmonella.

Exposure to these diseases can happen through drinking contaminated water, swallowing floodwater, or eating the decaying carcass of an infected animal.

You can protect your pet by making sure he or she drinks fresh water from a clean source when necessary.

You should not allow your pet to drink tap water unless it has been boiled for at least 10 minutes because tap water may contain contaminants, which could make your pet sick.

To be on the safe side, you should also boil all bottled water before giving it to your pet. If you have any doubts about whether your water supply is safe, take precautions until you know more about what’s in the water.

If flooding occurs in your area, follow instructions provided by emergency management officials about how long to avoid contact with floodwaters before coming into contact with animals living near those waters.


Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms

Pets are susceptible to many of the same types of worm infections as humans. These include roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. All three are transmitted by contact with infected animals or their waste.

Cats may ingest these worms by hunting small rodents that carry the parasites in their gut or coming into contact with an infected cat or dog’s feces.

Dogs get roundworm by swallowing fleas while they’re grooming themselves. Roundworms can also be passed from a mother to her puppies through her milk.

Hookworms can enter a pet’s body through their skin if they walk on contaminated soil or sand without wearing shoes.

Whipworms can live inside a pet for up to 2 years before becoming active and causing symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, bloody stools, anemia (low red blood cells), poor appetite, stomach pain, and eye irritation.


Heartworm Disease

Although a variety of different heartworm species are known to cause disease in humans, only one – Dirofilaria immitis – causes human disease.

This worm causes significant pathology when it invades the human bloodstream, but there is no evidence that it replicates or spreads within this host.

In dogs and cats, however, this parasitic infection is more complicated: The larvae can enter through the skin or by means of mosquito bites and migrate for years inside the body in tiny blood vessels.

Adult worms are typically found near the right ventricle (lower chamber) of the heart, but may also be found in other organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys, brain, or eye.

Signs and symptoms vary depending on where they live. For example, pulmonary signs (shortness of breath) result if they have invaded lung tissue; while neurological signs (seizures) result if they have entered brain tissue.

It’s important to note that all pets need protection against mosquitoes because these pests not only spread disease but make the pet an easy target for attacks.

It’s estimated that nearly 30% of U.S. households have at least one dog and 25% have at least one cat, so keeping your pet healthy is important!


Canine Influenza

Last year, about 150 thousand dogs contracted the illness in the United States. These canines came from at least 33 states, with a bulk of them being detected in the Midwest.

A little more than half of these infected dogs showed no symptoms, and others exhibited one or two low-grade symptoms such as coughing and a low fever.

However, some were much sicker. For example, they had difficulty breathing due to pneumonia or congestive heart failure.

Some needed emergency surgery to save their lives because their kidneys shut down and they developed sepsis (a serious infection that affects all major body organs).

It’s important to get your dog vaccinated against canine influenza each year. Other illnesses you should be aware of are rabies, distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, and Bordetella bronchiseptica.


How to Prevent Pet Diseases

If you love your pet, then you will want to learn about the best ways to protect them. The number one way is prevention. Ask your vet what vaccinations are available for your specific animal and get them started on a preventive regimen today.

This includes flea and tick prevention, too! When traveling with your pet, take some time to research the destination’s environmental conditions so that you can make sure they are wearing appropriate gear.

And don’t forget to keep up with dental care by brushing your teeth regularly and scheduling an appointment with a vet at least once every six months.

Remember that food also plays a major role in keeping pets healthy, and it’s important to choose foods high in quality protein as well as fiber-rich vegetables and fruits.

Take some time each day to cuddle with your favorite furry friend, too!

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