The Link Between Humans, Viruses & Vet Care for Cats and Dogs

viruses-wildlifePet owners need to stay on top of the latest information regarding the prevention and treatment of various diseases that can affect common domesticated animals. Regular vet care for cats and dogs is a great way to ensure that your pet is healthy, up-to-date on shots and other preventative measures, as well as to get information on important potentially life-threatening issues, such as mosquito control and prevention via heartworm treatment for dogs. Your local veterinary clinic in Dartmouth can help you to create a healthy plan for your family pet and can even provide you with facts that can be used to combat rumors, urban legends and other misunderstandings about links between humans, viruses, wildlife and household pets.

The Ebola Virus

Most recently in the news was the story about the dog in Spain who was exposed to Ebola through its owner and, as a result, was ordered to be euthanized out of concern for public safety. Another dog, which belonged to a nurse in Texas who was diagnosed with Ebola, also made headlines as the state promised to run tests and do everything possible before considering euthanizing the pup. Unfortunately, it is not our common household dogs and cats that we need to be most concerned about with regard to Ebola and other diseases, but various types of wildlife, which have been proven to carry and spread the virus.

When it comes to the spread of disease, it is most often wildlife that brings it to our doors, either infecting humans directly or indirectly through infection of our pets and livestock. However, there are only a few things that we need to worry about with regard to coming in contact with these potentially contagious viruses, so it is those areas that we should be the most concerned. Killing and eating wildlife, as well as working with their body parts via skins, furs, antlers and other hunting trophies – that is where our primary focus should lie. Identifying the species that most commonly carry these crossover viruses and then avoiding them at all costs should be a priority.

The Culprits: Bats and Primates

When most people think about species of wildlife that might cause their pet to go to the emergency veterinary hospital, they first think of rats or other rodents. While it is true that rodents have been responsible for carrying various diseases and precautions should be taken to keep them away from your home and yard, especially if you have outdoor pets, they are not at the top of the list when it comes to viruses like Ebola and other chief concerns. Bats and primates, which are often eaten in foreign countries, are becoming a huge problem. In fact, bats are considered to be a sort of “virus factory,” carrying a wide range of viruses all over the world.

The most recent data reveals that the current outbreak of Ebola came from a two-year-old child who either touched a bat that was captured or consumed the meat from one. That’s all it took to bring the virus from the animal kingdom into the human world. Bats are a common link between transferring contagious viruses from animals to people, including rabies, SARS, Nipah and Ebola. Our first line of defense is to teach people the world over to avoid capturing, killing and consuming bats, as well as avoiding the use of land for building homes or farming where bats roost, defecate and urinate.

We also share a lot of diseases with primates and it is accepted knowledge that HIV/AIDS came from the consumption of chimpanzees. Providing education to people around the world about avoiding wildlife that is known to carry disease and teaching about other ways to get nutrition and protein without consuming these animals will go a long way toward preventing the spread of other crossover diseases. While this will not prevent all viruses from emerging, it will go a long way toward decreasing the opportunity for them to make that jump from animals to people.

The Importance of Veterinary Care

Humans who keep animals as pets, whether here in the United States or around the world, should make taking care of their animals a chief concern. The prevention of rabies in people comes from awareness and precautions made via vet care for cats and dogs through vaccinations. In addition to rabies, prevention of parvo and other deadly illnesses that can be costly to treat and ultimately, can still result in death, must also be considered. Working with your veterinary clinic in Dartmouth to address issues such as heartworm treatment for dogs and avoiding heartworm in the first place and keeping people safe from West Nile and other viruses that can be avoided through mosquito control and prevention is also beneficial.

Ask your veterinarian about other immunizations or precautions that you can take as a pet owner to keep your pets, family members and community safe from crossover viruses and disease. This is part of responsible pet ownership and a little prevention will help your pet live a long and healthy life, hopefully avoiding a midnight trip to the emergency veterinary hospital for a virus or other life-threatening illness. Vet care for cats and dogs can be very expensive when it comes to treating diseases or situations that occur, however investing in the prevention of these problematic situations from the time of adoption will benefit everyone involved.

Knowledge is Power

People coming in contact with wildlife and the viruses and other pathogens that they carry has been a problem since life began. However, the more that we learn about how these viruses are spread and the animals that are most often responsible, the better we can avoid contact with them and keep our pets safe in the process. Speak with your veterinary clinic in Dartmouth about creating a healthy vaccination plan for your pet. Even if vet care for cats and dogs was not given when they were young, there’s no reason why you can’t work with your local veterinarian to start prevention right now.

For more information about vet care for cats and dogs, including heartworm treatment for dogs, mosquito control and prevention, vaccinations and other treatments, call Anchor Animal Hospital in Dartmouth at 508-996-3731. Our team can schedule an appointment for you and your pet, provide you with a thorough examination or updated check-up and can also advise you on various vaccinations and treatments that are available and recommended in our area. In addition to providing general health care for your pet, we are also an emergency veterinary hospital and can provide labs, x-rays, ultrasound, dentistry, surgery and pain management all on-site.