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Is Your Dog Prepared for Climate Change?

The reality is that the weather is changing, and the world is growing warmer year by year.  Not only does this change pose a threat to you, but it presents a variety of very real dangers to the life and wellbeing of your dog.  Here are four challenges to your dog's wellbeing created by climate change. 

Heartworm:  

Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the heart of infected animals and is most often fatal. It is carried by infected mosquitos and then can spread to other dogs.  As the climate has warmed, there are more mosquitos increasing the risk.  Once found only in the Southeast, heartworm is now found in every state in the country including Alaska and Hawaii.  At one time winter months were “safe” from heartworm infection, warming climate now means that your dog is at risk of heartworm infection all year long. In the past 7 years, there has been a 20% increase in the number of heartworm cases among dogs.

Have your dog tested by the vet and once you’re assured there’s no infection treat your dog with heartworm prevention medication year-round. 

Tick-Borne Diseases

The increasing temperature has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of ticks which carry a variety of diseases from Lyme, to anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis among others.  In 2018, almost 15% of dogs in Connecticut, 7.5% of dogs in Minnesota and 1% of dogs in Washington state tested positive for Lyme.  Centered on the East Coast originally, Lyme and its associated diseases have spread westward.  Not only do ticks pose a risk to your pets, but they can also hitch a ride on your pet and live up to three months in your home where they can bite family or pets. 

  • Check your pet carefully each time they’re out

  • Use flea and tick medication year-round

  • Remove ticks carefully

  • Use flea combs to brush your dog

  • Minimize potential exposure – stay out of dense woods

  • Avoid areas of standing water near your dog’s outdoor space

  • Vacuum carpets and dog’s bedding carefully

  • Use a dog stroller to minimize risk

Rising Temperatures

Many areas have experienced long spells of very hot weather. Your dog is wearing a year-round fur coat and has a cooling system that is not as effective as yours.  The temperatures that are a bit uncomfortable for you may be fatal to your pet. 

  • Walk early morning or evening when it’s cooler outside

  • Make sure your dog has available shade

  • Test surfaces for risk of burning sensitive paw pads

  • Adjust exercise to avoid overheating

  • Cool your dog with lots of cool water

  • For older or disabled dogs use a pet stroller

Environmental Emergencies:  

Climate change brings extraordinary weather and with it serious risks.  Recent floods in some areas and large wildfires in others are just two disasters that can require urgent action to protect your pets. 

  • Create an emergency kit and have it handy.

  • Consider the guidelines found on com.

  • Plan ahead as to places they could stay if you were unable to keep them with you.

  • Make sure that you have a transport container.

Help ensure that your pet has a safe life with these simple steps.


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