The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) predicts the threat of Lyme Disease for dogs will be extremely high this year. See map of northeast published by CAPC. This recent notification was just sent to the veterinary community (June 18, 2013), although other organizations have notified us previously. This prediction is based on many factor which include: increase in reported cases of Lyme Disease in humans and dogs, outside temperature, precipitation, humidity, population density, deer population, and forest cover, and evidence that some of the previously used popular topical medication for tick prevention have lost their effectiveness. There is strong evidence that ticks and even fleas have the capability of developing resistance to products that are used repetitively. That is why the CDC recommend we alternate products or use newer products on the market available to veterinar ians. The topical products plus vaccination is the best way to protect your dog. Prevention is the best medicine. The newer vaccines that protect your dog against Lyme disease have proven to be safe and effective. Don’t forget, dogs can bring ticks into the house which can get on you. Slight lameness is one of the earliest signs we see in dogs with Lyme disease. It can progress to lethargy and loss of appetite and even further progress to swollen joints, pain and even kidney disease. The CAPC recommends, along with the Center for Communicable Diseases (CDC) that all dogs and cats get year-round parasite-control medications. This requires topical and oral 1 x each month preventative medications readily available from your veterinarian.
It has been said to me many many times that “my cat never goes outside so it can’t pick up anything”. It has also been said to me that my “dog never leaves the back yard and won’t catch anything”. Both of these statements are not true. Here are the facts:
- The eggs of many parasites can be brought into the house on the bottoms of your shoes.
- Flies, mice and cockroaches can carry roundworm eggs and infect your pets.
- It has been documented that 15% of potting soil sold is contaminated with roundworm eggs.
- Roundworms are contagious to humans and can be passed from cats or dogs to humans. In fact, it has also been determined that approximately 14% of the U.S. human population is infected with roundworms. Roundworm larva can penetrate human skin and cause a condition known as “Visceral larval migrans”.
- The other very contagious parasite that is communicable to humans from a dog or cat is the protozoan parasite known as Giardia. This parasite has been found in the dirt and mulch used in flower beds, etc. around the house.
- Wild animals such as rabbits, raccoons, rats, etc. usually have intestinal parasites that are deposited on your lawns in their feces.
- Hookworm larva can also penetrate human skin and cause a condition known as “Cutaneous larval migrans”.
- Birds can bring in parasites onto your property from miles away. It is known that some birds also carry the deer tick that transmits Lyme disease.
Fortunately, all these parasites can be treated very successfully and eliminated from the host, whether it be a dog, cat or human. But, first it must be determined which, if any, is present in your pet. That is why a fecal examination is recommended by your veterinarian at least 1x each year. It must be determined if your pet has parasites and if so which kind, as the treatment varies.