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The Rainy Weather and Your Pet

By: Kat Tigas-dela TorreThe Rainy Weather and Your Pet

With the rainy months come class suspensions, the emergence of umbrellas and rain gear, roof repairs, and more. But what pet owners should know is that with the increasing rainfall, there is also an increase in certain conditions that concern our beloved pets.

Although not directly related to rain itself, these diseases have been seen to increase during this season:

Leptospirosis – A bacterial disease that affects several species, including cats, dogs, rodents, and even humans. Once infected, an animal sheds leptospires with its urine and other reproductive fluids. This disease is most commonly spread when the urine of an infected animal comes into contact with another susceptible animal through ingestion, mucous membranes, or via open wounds. Contaminated sources of water, food, and conditions in the environment spread the disease. Cases of leptospirosis increase during rainy weather primarily because of flooding and lack of hygiene in affected areas. Leptospires can also infect fresh bodies of water such as rivers and streams. To lessen the risk of contracting leptospirosis, bring your dog to the vet for vaccination. The “5-in-1” and “6-in-1” vaccines protect against certain strains of leptospires among other diseases. It is also crucial to practice good hygiene in and around your home – get rid of standing water or call up a reputable company that offers pest control.

Heartworm – If you're lucky and live in a flood-free area, you should still check around your property for any water that has accumulated in containers or puddle-prone areas. Standing water is favorable for mosquitoes' egg-laying. These pesky insects are carriers of a condition in dogs (and in rare cases, even cats) known as dirofilariasis, which is more commonly known as heartworm disease. Dirofilaria immitis are worms that reside in blood vessels, heart, and lungs of dogs and even rarely, cats. Transmission is through mosquito bites.

If left untreated, this disease can even lead to the death of your beloved pet. Fortunately, several forms of medication are available to prevent and treat this condition. To start the preventive heartworm program, your vet will collect a blood sample to make sure that your dog is negative for Dirofilaria. If found negative, you can then start giving preventive medicine in the form of chewable tablets, topical medications or other types of preparation. It is much easier to follow a preventive program than to undergo treatment.

Giardiasis – Giardia are protozoa that can cause diarrhea and other intestinal problems in our pets. An infected animal will shed Giardia within days of ingesting contaminated material. The infection spreads when another animal drinks, eats, and even sniffs material that contains Giardia cysts. As with heartworm and leptospirosis, the incidence of Giardia may increase during rainy weather because this type of parasite favors wet conditions. Be extra vigilant in taking your dog out for a walk in rainy weather. Don't let him drink or eat anything outdoors. Giardiasis can also be passed from an animal to a human so always practice good hygiene. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling your animal and their wastes.

Other things to consider during the rainy season:

Whenever your pet gets caught in the rain, always make sure to dry him/her completely. Bacteria and fungi thrive in moist, humid fur and may cause dermatitis and other unwanted conditions.

A lot of dogs are also afraid of thunderstorms. Scientists theorize that these may be brought about not only by the loud sound of thunder, which is frightening enough for these animals who have a more advanced sense of hearing. Static electricity and changes in the atmosphere's pressure are other factors that are also considered.  If left alone and unsupervised, in their panicked state, they may run away or hurt themselves. Make sure your pet has safe, dry shelter to retreat to, especially for those dogs that are not allowed to enter the house and exclusively live outdoors.

Different seasons will necessitate certain adjustments in the way we care for our pets. And in this climate change that we find ourselves in, that may sometimes vary on a daily basis. But even if we can't control the weather, it is important to consistently provide the things that we should have a handle on – protection, shelter, sustenance, and compassion.

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