Buzz off! Importance of flea and tick control for canine companions
With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil just around the corner, concerns about the Zika virus have filled the airwaves. But diseases transmitted by vectors such as mosquitos not only affect people; our dog companions are susceptible to many of these same infections.
Ticks and mosquitoes are the main culprits in the transmission of serious illnesses to dogs (as well as other companion species and people). Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease, West Nile virus, and Eastern equine encephalitis. Diseases transmitted by ticks include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, babesiosis and ehrlichiosis.
A number of questions in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study questionnaire focus on the use of flea and tick control. Not surprisingly, a large portion – 2,391 dogs, or 79.7 percent – of our study participants receive either oral or topical products to control fleas and ticks. The heaviest concentration of product usage is centered on areas where vector-borne diseases are most common, such as the South, and East Coast and West Coast states.
A large number of different products are used by our study participants, with some enrollees rotating between various products or using two different products simultaneously. As the study continues, we’ll be monitoring trends in external parasite control, keeping track of the products used, and monitoring infectious disease occurrence.
Prevention and awareness are two of the best ways to protect your dog from vector-borne infectious diseases. Climate change has altered disease patterns worldwide, with many diseases – and vectors – moving into new areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an excellent source of information on newly recognized diseases affecting pets and people, as well as tracking current infectious disease trends.
The CDC Division of Vector-Borne Diseases has extensive information about how diseases are transmitted, the vectors involved, and prevention strategies. It’s important to monitor what diseases are common in the area where you and your pet live, which diseases might be making their way toward your location, and to learn about local diseases when taking a vacation with your pet.
Morris Animal Foundation continues to fund critical research to protect our pets from infectious diseases, as well as advance treatments and cures. Learn more at Morris Animal Foundation.