Flood Safety Tips for PetsLast updated: August 2, 2016
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, what should be our biggest concerns?
Mosquitoes use the new wet areas to reproduce and thrive. Pyrethrin sprays repel mosquitoes successfully and prevent them from landing on your pet. Pyrethrins are very safe, but they do not last more than one or two days. If you are jogging or heading to the park, spray your pet before you go. This product is fine for cats, as well.
When you're at home, 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. These products work well with Pyrethrins, but they are seldom enough by themselves.
The risk of Heartworm disease will also increase with the mosquito problem. Mosquitoes carry heartworm and can transfer them to your pet when they feed. Be sure your pets are on a monthly heartworm preventative, and talk to your vet about increasing the dose if your mosquito issue is extreme. In some areas of the south, increased dosage is already being used to combat the heartworm exposure.
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 minimum of a two-way Lepto vaccine to prevent abortion. Although reactions are rare, watch your dogs closely after administering the Lepto vaccine.
"Hot spots," 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, such as Vet Basics Chlor 4 Shampoo to soothe the itch. Apply topical medications twice daily to lesions. Pramoxine Anti-Itch Spray be helpful with the itch, but avoid medications that dry out the wound or contain alcohol, as the sting will draw attention to the site.
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 Lime Sulfur Dip will soothe the itch and kill the ringworm spores on the coat. Topical lesion treatment with an antifungal like ChlorConazole spray will speed the cure. Some animals require oral Ketoconazole to get rid of the issue. Cats are especially susceptible to ringworm.
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 disinfectants, feel free to talk to our pet care specialists!
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 need help, call us at 800.786.4751.
- Dr. B
Don Bramlage, DVM, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.