By Dr Benjamin GrahamIvor Jones
The floods have affected us all in one way or many over the past two years. But what about our animal flooding?
Stress caused by moving out of our homes into new environments, exposure to new people, close contact with other animals of all species and our pets’ intuitive sense of our stress levels all contribute to a dramatic effect on our pets’ lives.
We can help keep our animals calm by ensuring that they have familiar smells whenever possible. A blanket, some clothing, their normal food will all help keep our pets at ease. Taking the time to show our pets love, and exercise them wherever possible will not only ease their concerns, but also allow us to take a minute for ourselves.
The introduction of floodwater into our community also brings risks of disease for both us and our animals. Cleanliness and hygiene is just as important for our pets as it is for us. It is important that we wash our pets when they have been exposed to floodwater, and keep them high and dry as much as possible. One disease of particular note during times of flooding is leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means that we can catch it too. It is spread in the urine of infected animals, including rats and mice, cattle and dogs. In humans, keep an eye out for fever, headache and vomiting. In dogs, monitor for lethargy, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea and jaundice. Dogs can be vaccinated against Leptospirosis with their annual vaccines or as an additional booster throughout the year.
As there is no available vaccine for humans against leptospirosis, handwashing after handling animals and before eating is our best defence against catching this disease ourselves.