Spring is a great time to brush up on pet health and wellness knowledge as our pets, like us, begin migrating outdoors more.
Quiz: Spring Forward to a Healthy Pet
Spring is a time of new beginnings. Get a fresh start on your pet’s health by taking the quiz below and testing your knowledge of common preventive care issues for our four-legged friends. Then, go back and read up on the facts listed below each question.
- 1.Intestinal parasites: Which common intestinal parasite (worm) in dogs can cause blindness in humans?
Worms are not always the harmless garden variety children play with on rainy spring days. Dogs and cats can be infected with intestinal worms that ultimately shed their eggs in a pet’s stool, contaminating yards, playgrounds and sandboxes. Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms are all transmittable to humans. One roundworm can lay up to 200,000 eggs daily – it only takes one of these to infect a human (most commonly children) and potentially cause blindness. While many bugs die in the winter, whipworm and roundworm eggs tend to be resistant to our cold Chicagoland temperatures, making them a risk year-round. Preventing these infections in dogs can be as simple as administering a monthly heartworm preventive pill, many of which also act as intestinal de-wormers. Annual intestinal parasite testing is also recommended.
- 2.Fleas: One adult female flea seen on your pet may be responsible for how many eggs in the environment?
And more importantly, who wants to see one flea, much less 2,000 of its offspring? Fleas are wingless insects that survive on the blood of warm-blooded vertebrates such as dogs, cats and people. They can jump up to 200 times the length of their body (13 inches), making them the world’s best jumper (this would be equal to a 300-foot leap for a human!). In the 14th century, fleas were responsible for transmitting bacteria from rats to humans leading to the Black Death and an estimated 25 million human deaths. While bubonic plague is rarely seen in the United States today (5 to 15 cases annually), fleas transmit several other diseases between animals and humans. Many products are available to safely control fleas on cats and dogs. Speak with your veterinarian to help decide which are best suited for both your pet and your family.
- 3.Ticks: It is estimated that every whitetail deer is responsible for how many deer ticks between October and November alone?
Cooler months are typically the more active time for ticks. In October and November, deer will drop five pregnant ticks daily, which lay up to 3,000 eggs each. Even with only 10 percent of these surviving, every Bambi has potentially dropped 45,000 deer ticks into our forests, yards and favorite walking paths. Ticks are responsible for the transmission of many diseases including Lyme disease, which infects both humans and dogs. Fortunately, only 10 to 15 percent of dogs exposed to Lyme disease are expected to show symptoms, which are typically limited to joint pain and readily treatable with antibiotics. Speak with your veterinarian to determine what tick preventive is best for your pet.
- 4.Heartworm disease: Heartworm disease is spread by what common insect?
Up to 12 inches in length and living up to seven years, heartworms and the potentially fatal lung disease they can cause are 100 percent preventable with a monthly dosage of heartworm preventive. Mosquitoes ingest blood from heartworm-infected animals. Heartworm larvae incubate in the mosquito and are finally re-injected into your cat or dog. There is not a good treatment available for cats and one study indicated that 25 percent of cats infected with heartworms lived solely indoors. While treatment of heartworm disease is possible for dogs, it is both expensive and potentially life threatening. Prevention is the key.
- 5.Vaccinations: True or False?
- a.Canine distemper vaccination is expected to provide protection against disease for one or three years only depending on the type of vaccination.
- b.A three-year rabies vaccination is a more economical option for dogs over the age of 1.
- c.Coronavirus is no longer a recommended vaccination for dogs.
All commercially available distemper vaccines are expected to induce a sustained protective immune response lasting at least ≥ 5 years (after initial vaccination as a puppy) and coronavirus is no longer a recommended vaccination for dogs. Rabies vaccination, per McHenry County statutes, can be administered every three years after 1 year of age. And contrary to popular belief, the three-year vaccination is not three times stronger than the one-year vaccination. Three-year licensing is less expensive compared to three individual one-year licenses and your dog does not receive extra vaccinations. Download www.aahanet.org/PublicDocuments/CanineVaccineGuidelines.pdf for the most up-to-date canine vaccination recommendations.
- 6.Dental issues: True or False?
- a.For a product to be labeled “tartar control,” the manufacturer must show evidence that it assists with tartar reduction.
- b.General anesthesia is required for a thorough and complete dental cleaning.
- c.Seventy percent of dogs over the age of 3 have periodontal disease.
Unfortunately, there are no regulations concerning how products for dental disease in pets are labeled. To truly control tartar and plaque buildup, tooth brushing multiple times a week is ideal. But if your dog is one of the 70 percent over three years old with periodontal disease (which leads to tooth decay, pain and other potential disease), a thorough cleaning and evaluation under general anesthesia by your veterinarian is necessary. This allows a clean start and the opportunity to use truly helpful products recommended by VOHC (www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm) to keep their smile pearly white and breath fresh for years to come.
- 7.About what percentage of pets are lost in their lifetime?
- a.10 percent
- b.30 percent
- c.50 percent
Only about 22 percent of lost dogs and 2 percent of lost cats that enter animal shelters were reunited with their owners and about one out of every three dogs will be lost in their lifetime. On a brighter note, the return-to-owner rate for microchipped dogs was more than 52 percent and microchipped cats more than 38 percent. Unfortunately, an owner’s work is not done by just making sure that their pet is microchipped. Only 58 percent of microchipped pets are registered with their owner’s information. So take a road trip and swing by your veterinarian to have your pet scanned and confirm that if they are lost, you can be found.
- 8.When comparing human and dog years, AARP would recognize dogs at what age?
According to Guinness World Records, the oldest living dog in history was 29 years old and the oldest living cat in history lived for 36 years. The average dog is typically considered “senior” around 8 years of age (depending on breed) and should be examined twice yearly in an effort to catch treatable conditions early. Subtle weight changes, alterations in thirst or urination, and slowing down can all be signs of treatable conditions for our older furry friends. To see how your dog’s age compares, take a look at http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/how-to-calculate-your-dogs-age.
- 9.What percentage of the fatal dog attacks in 2011 were made by a family dog?
- a.10 percent
- b.35 percent
- c.65 percent
As the days lengthen, flowers bud, and our furry and two-legged family finally get a relief from the winter’s cabin fever, consider this sobering information: In 2011, family dogs comprised 65 percent of the 31 fatal dog attacks in the United States. Further, 74 percent of all fatal incidents occurred on the dog owner's property (www.dogsbite.org). This is a good opportunity to refresh yourself and your children on how to properly approach, handle and avoid potentially dangerous situations with dogs. Www.be-a-tree.com and www.liamjperkfoundation.org/index.html provide some fantastic talking points and diagrams to help make this a healthy spring for the whole family.
- 5.aF, bF, CT
- 6.aF, bT, cT
- 8.8 years
Dr. Karen Burgess, owner of Healthy Paws Animal Hospital in Lake in the Hills, has more than 13 years of experience in veterinary medicine (including specialty, emergency and general practice). Healthy Paws Animal Hospital is a full-service animal hospital located at 4581 Princeton Lane, Suite 101 (815-322-5400, www.hpah.org). The practice offers general health care, general surgery, progressive dental care, radiology, in-hospital laboratory services, behavioral recommendations and quality of life care.