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Canine Disease Forecast 2016
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Dog Diseases for Summer 2016

As the mom of two young children, I’m always checking the weather forecast. Jacket or sweater? Rain boots or sneakers? As a veterinarian with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), I rely on a different forecast, the Companion Animal Parasite Council findings published by my veterinary colleagues, which tracks the intensity of pet diseases from year to year. Here’s what to expect for the remainder of 2016.

HEARTWORM DISEASE FORECAST: STORMY

Veterinarians anticipate a rise in heartworm disease because of the unusual weather pattern created by El Niño. The warmer temperatures and wetter conditions create an ideal breeding environment for mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites a dog, the larvae are injected into the dog’s skin. They migrate through the body, finding their way to the large blood vessels of the heart and lungs. There, they mature to the size of cooked spaghetti. These tangled masses of worms can cause heart failure, and even death, if not treated early.

Expect to see cases skyrocket in:

  • Florida
  • The Gulf Coast
  • New Mexico
  • Northern California
  • Northern and western states

Heartworm disease is prevalent in the Lower Mississippi River region and this year it’s expected to spread to:

  • Eastern Missouri
  • Southern Illinois
  • Southern Indiana

All dogs need to be protected from heartworms, even those who rarely venture outside. The one mosquito that flies through your open window and bites your dog just might be infected with heartworm larvae. Preventives are available in the form of pills, topical liquids and injections. All kill the larvae once they enter the bloodstream. The AAHA recommends year-round heartworm prevention.

TICK-BORNE DISEASE FORECAST: PARTIALLY CLOUDY

An infected tick can spread a number of life-threatening diseases when it bites a dog. The most common are Lyme, anaplasmosis and ehrlichiosis, and their prevalence varies by region. Some dogs with Lyme disease will run a high fever, experience painful joints and exhibit swollen lymph nodes. Others will present no signs at all. Untreated infections can lead to kidney failure and death.

In regions where Lyme has been living comfortably for years, the incidence is expected to rise. These regions include:

  • New York State
  • Northern California
  • West Virginia
  • Western Pennsylvania

Recently, the disease has spread to:

  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky

These states may have a higher-than-average occurrence the rest of the year.

Historically, Lyme has thrived in New England, but, oddly enough, the incidence there is expected to fall below normal this year, perhaps because more owners are vaccinating their dogs.

If you live in an area where ticks are abundant, take precautions to keep your dogs safe. Your veterinarian will prescribe a tick preventive in the form of pills, topical liquids or collars. In areas where Lyme disease is prevalent, she may recommend vaccination.

Anaplasmosis causes disruptions in blood clotting, which results in bruising, internal bleeding and nosebleeds. Signs of Lyme disease also present in anaplasmosis.

Anaplasmosis shows moderate to high activity in:

  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • West Virginia
  • (Wisconsin and Minnesota show below-normal activity.)

Ehrlichiosis displays signs similar to both Lyme and anaplasmosis along with eye, liver and spleen infections. Above-normal incidence of ehrlichiosis is expected in:

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As an emergency veterinarian, Heather Loenser, DVM, has been helping pets in their times of crisis for almost a decade. Staff veterinary advisor in professional and public affairs for the American Animal Hospital Association, she is a sought-after TV and radio guest, frequently sharing her expertise on the Today Show, Fox News, Dr. Oz and local New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, DC–area television.

Photo by Elsamuko

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