Vet Corner: There’s no such thing as a Free Dog!
by Sandra Black, DVM
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free dog.
Your pet needs regular vet care and disease prevention to live a healthy life. Here are just a few of the threats to your dog or cat.
- Heartworms are a threat to our dogs in western NC. Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms have a multiple stage lifecycle, but end up attaching to the walls inside our dogs’ hearts. Once there, they create both heart and lung problems and, if left untreated, will cause an unpleasant death. Heartworm infection can be treated, but it requires both time and money and is not without adverse effects. The best way to keep your dog happy and healthy is to keep him or her on a heartworm preventative every month all year long. As we head into winter, people think the threat of heartworm infection in their dogs disappears. Not true! Good heartworm prevention also treats those nasty hookworms, roundworms and whipworms that lie in wait in our soil. Talk to your vet about heartworm testing and the appropriate heartworm prevention/dewormer for your dog.
- Canine parvovirus is a virus that attacks the lining of a dog’s intestines. It will cause an awful bloody diarrhea, resulting in both dehydration and sepsis…and death if not treated. This virus affects young dogs mostly, and is easily prevented by a series of at least three vaccinations in puppies, starting at 7-8 weeks of age. Parvovirus is relatively common is western NC so don’t delay in getting your young puppies vaccinated…Any delay might cost your puppy his life—or cost you A LOT of money.)
- Cats are susceptible to a multitude of viral diseases, many of which are preventable with vaccinations. One such disease is feline panleukopenia, commonly called feline distemper. This virus affects many body systems, and can be fatal, especially in baby kittens. It is transmitted via feces or urine of infected cats (who may or may not show signs of illness), or through the uterus in pregnant cats. Cats or kittens infected will show a variety of signs, including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or death. Treatment is supportive care, and may or may not be successful. The best way to protect your cat or kitten is to get them vaccinated.
- Canine distemper is a contagious and serious viral illness with no known cure. It not only affects dogs, but also raccoons, wolves, foxes, skunks, and ferrets. It is spread through the air and by direct or indirect contact with an infected animal. Early on, an infected dog will be lethargic, feverish, anorexic, and will have coughing, vomiting and diarrhea. This will progress to seizures, paralysis, and possibly death. There are no antiviral drugs for this devastating disease. The best protection against distemper is to get your puppy or dog vaccinated, and protect new-born pups from exposure until they are old enough to vaccinate.
The money you spend to adopt or purchase your pet is just the beginning. Consider carefully whether you can afford to care for your pet for 15-20 years of life. Then establish a relationship with your local vet. She will be your dog’s second best friend!