Climate Change puts dogs at a greater risk for diseases

By Julia Shanahan | June 21st, 2019

While there have been reports that climate change puts humans at a greater risk for contracting infectious diseases, some experts say climate change has contributed to the spread of diseases that can sicken or sometimes kill dogs, according to a report from USA Today.

The report highlighted illnesses in dogs such as vomiting, joint pain, fever, Heartworm disease, and tick-borne illnesses. Lyme disease has also affected dogs all the way through Canada.

These diseases can also be contracted by humans, but dogs and other animals are put at a greater risk because they spend more time outside. Also, because the average global temperature has increased by 1.4 degrees fahrenheit, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, animals are at risk for diseases not only in the summer months, but also in the fall and spring.  

In the USA Today report, Ram Raghavan, a professor of spatial epidemiology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University who studies tick-borne illnesses and populations in the Midwest, said he believes ticks are expanding their habitats to places where they were never typically found. The changing amounts of rainfall and humidity levels contribute to the expansion of diseases, and in the Midwest, increasing rainfall and flooding have been evident.

The report says the shift in dogs being at risk for disease will be “fast and ugly.” It says that ticks can often carry new viruses and diseases, and with the population expansion, experts are not certain as to exactly what other diseases could potentially spread.

The Center for Disease Control encourages dog owners to do routine veterinary exams, and to make sure children are washing their hands after petting or playing with dogs.

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