While there are few diseases transmissible between dogs and humans, there are a few to be aware of, namely Leptospirosis and Rabies.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria transmitted through the urine of infected animals. Wildlife, including deer, rabbits, raccoons, and coyotes, are the most common carriers.
Leptospirosis can cause severe liver and kidney damage. While the vaccine will not prevent disease 100%, it will severely lessen the clinical signs and allow for a better response to treatment.
Rabies is a preventable disease! All dogs, by Massachusetts law, must be vaccinated against Rabies.
If you come across wildlife, don't handle it! Call the police or animal control and notify them of the encounter.
If your pet comes into contact with wildlife, it is imperative that you contact your local veterinarian to discuss your pet's current Rabies vaccine status and exposure risk.
If your pet kills a wild animal, do not pick it up! Again, call the police or animal control and specifically request that the wild animal be tested for Rabies. The state does this free of charge and it is extremely helpful in monitoring local communities for Rabies. Also, be sure to have limited contact with your pet (as hard as that is) until you have been notified of the results. If your pet has any wounds, call your veterinarian. All veterinarians are vaccinated against rabies and have been trained in safe handling of potentially exposed pets. Do not attempt to treat the wounds yourself! Rabies is transmitted via saliva and even a small cut on your hand could allow for absorption of the virus.
> Lyme Disease
While Lyme disease isn't transmitted directly from dog to human (rather it is transmitted by ticks), it is still a common disease we all share.
There are commercially available vaccinations for Lyme disease.
Flea and tick prevention should be used year round in Massachusetts. Even with our brutally cold winter, we had a few warm days and the ticks were back out!
For dogs who don't tolerate the topical versions, there is a new oral flea and tick preventative, made by Merial. Ask your veterinarian for more details.
Holiday Eating Tips
While especially true during the winter holidays, here are a few good tips to keep in mind ALL year long when faced with a holiday or special occasion. Provided by Carla Scotto.
> Fill a small appetizer plate once instead of snacking on chips and dip straight from the bowl. You'll have a better idea of how much you are eating if you fill a plate and walk away from the appetizer table.
> Stop by the veggie tray first and fill at least half of your appetizer plate with a variety of veggies. Use these for dipping rather than tortilla chips, crackers, or bread.
> Watch out for all of the creamy and cheesy dips like crab dip and spinach artichoke dip. These are dense in calories so keep portions small. Opt for bean dip, hummus, or low-fat ranch dressing instead.
>Watch portions from the cheese and meat tray. Remember salami and other processed meats are high in sodium and saturated fat, so it may be best to skip these and save room for dinner. When it comes to cheese, remember that 1 ounce has about 100 calories and 5 grams of saturated fat so it is important to keep portions small. (An ounce of cheese is about the size of a pair of dice.
> Don’t skip meals earlier in the day. Coming to a party hungry means you'll be more likely to overeat.
> Simply fill half of your plate non-starchy veggies like salad, broccoli, carrots, or Brussels sprouts. Then fill one-fourth of the plate with starchy foods like sweet potatoes, a whole wheat roll, roasted root veggies. The last fourth can be filled with a lean protein, like roasted turkey breast, chicken without the skin, or fish.
Recent news and journal articles that speak to the need for a combination of fitness and nutrition not only for us humans, but also for our beloved canine companions as well. Please follow the links below to read up on the latest studies and discussions (with apologies in advance for any links that become outdated/obsolete).