Animal Medical Care Winter Weather Precautions

The end of summer predicts unpredictable weather in the Pacific Northwest. Wet windy weather can be harsh to our small pets. Hypothermia is a very real potential problem for small animals that do not have the benefit of shelter from the elements. This can be exaggerated if the pet is suffering from malnutrition, parasitism or other health issues. Prevention of problems include bi-annual exams to maximize health quality, diets, immunization, parasite control and health screening. All pets desire a clean dry shelter, quality food and free choice water.

Disease prevention is always preferable to treating illness. As with people minimizing exposure to areas with a congested pet population may be wise. Airborne viruses are much more easily transmitted in confined quarters such as boarding facilities, grooming parlors, and pet day-care areas. If such exposure is necessary, vaccination for parainfluenza and bordetella (kennel cough) is essential. With the emergence of canine influenza the recently approved vaccine needs to be considered.

Canine influenza (H3N8) was first identified in racing greyhounds in 2004 in Florida. There have been outbreaks in Colorado, Florida and Virginia. The virus is highly contagious among dogs and has been confirmed in Oregon. We as well as the American Veterinary Medical Association encourage the consideration of the canine influenza vaccine for those dogs that would normally need the bordetella vaccine. The disease causes severe upper respiratory signs that can lead to pneumonia.

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