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Flood Safety Tips for Pets

Can dogs get sick from flood water? With extra rain comes flooding, and with the rising water comes a new set of concerns for our pets. It pushes the wildlife and rodents into contact areas with pets, plus flying insects love the added moisture. As pet owners, how do you keep pets safe during a flood?

Are Mosquitoes A Problem for Dogs?

Mosquitoes use the new wet areas to reproduce and thrive. Pyrethrin sprays repel mosquitoes successfully. In addition, using two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water or using a few drops of lavender oil will help repel pests on the deck or in the kennel area. This works well with Pyrethrins, but is seldom enough by itself.

Heartworm From Mosquitoes

The risk of Heartworm disease in dogs and cats will also increase with the mosquito problem. Mosquitoes carry heartworm and can transfer them to your pet when they feed. Symptoms of heartworm are cough weight loss, exercise, intolerance, panting, fainting, edema in the legs. Heartworm can also lead to kidney failure and liver failure. A pregnant dog cannot transmit heartworm to her puppies. Be sure all your pets are on a monthly heartworm preventative.

Heartworm prevention includes ivermectin such as Heartgard Plus, Milbemycin, such as Interceptor and Sentinel, and selamectin, which is Revolution. All of these drugs are very common and very safe. There is no excuse for a dog to get heartworm disease at this time with the kind of effective preventatives available. If you have a breeding dog, try to avoid giving any of the heartworm preventives in the first three weeks of the pregnancy. Read the label on your heartworm products, make sure it says it’s labeled for use in breeding dogs, both males and females. Trifexis and Simparica are heartworm preventatives that are not labeled for use in breeding dogs.

Can Dogs Get Lepto from Water?

Leptospirosis or “Lepto” is a bacterial infection that is shed in the urine, and urine-contaminated water is ideal for Lepto survival. Rodents and raccoons are the main shedders of Lepto after flooding, but many mammals can get Lepto, including humans. Dogs with Lepto have kidney and liver issues that are hard to treat. These organs often fail, resulting in death. If the dog survives, he may carry Lepto and become an intermittent shedder for the rest of his life. Pregnant dogs that are not protected will abort in late pregnancy from Lepto.

The healthiest options for prevention are vaccines and simply not drinking run-off water. Two-way and four-way vaccines are available according to what Lepto strain is in your area. Breeding dogs located in Lepto areas should be vaccinated with a Lepto vaccine to prevent abortion. Although reactions are rare, watch your dogs closely after administering the Lepto vaccine.

Hot Spots on Dogs

Hot spots in dogs,” also called Pyotraumatic Dermatitis, gets their name from lesions that are warm to the touch. This acute, rapidly-developing, surface bacterial skin infection occurs as a result of self-inflicted trauma. Hot spots are common in hot, humid weather. Fleas are the most common stimulus but hot, wet weather, long thick coats, allergies, and anything that causes scratching can result in hot spots. It is rarely seen in cats.

When treating hot spots, clip the hair from the lesions and then gently cleanse with a medicated shampoo to soothe the itch. Apply topical medications twice daily to lesions. Avoid medications that dry out the wound or contain alcohol, as the sting will draw attention to the site.

Ringworm on Cats and Dogs

Ringworm, a fungal infection, also increases with the hot, humid weather. Fungal infections are soil-born but require rougher surfaces to attach. Bruising, scratches or hot spots can give fungal infections that foothold on skin. Shampooing and treating the dog with Vet Basics Lime Sulfur Dip will soothe the itch and kill the ringworm spores on the coat. Topical lesion treatment with an antifungal spray will speed the cure. Some animals require oral Ketoconazole to get rid of the issue. Cats are especially susceptible to ringworm.

Can Dogs Get Bacterial Infection from Water?

Bacterial infections are also common with flooding, and disinfectants are important to keep them in check. If your kennel area is flooded, you need to use a good disinfectant like Virkon, being careful to thoroughly clean and disinfect any moldy areas. If you have any questions about pet safe disinfectants, call our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751.

Giardia in Water

Giardia is a one-celled, moisture-loving parasite that lives in the small intestine of infected animals. These animals shed Giardia in their stools, and flooding moves contaminated water to your area. Other pets can become ill from drinking or eating contaminated matter, so maintaining clean, well-drained kennels and exercise pens is essential. The primary symptom of Giardia is aggressive, mucusy diarrhea. Fenbendazole dewormers will treat Giardia and can be used in combination with the antibiotic Metronidazole.

If you have more questions on how to keep your pet safe during a flood or finding the best pet safe disinfectant, call us at 800.786.4751.

Article originally written by Donald Bramlage, DVM, Revival’s Former Director of Veterinary Services.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.