Pets Travel Safety Tips
Owners like to travel with their pets, which may come with the risk of acquiring infectious diseases, sun exposure (heat stroke in some tropical-areas/climates) and travel stress. This blog aims to give an overview of important infectious diseases and safety tips to avoid the infections and other risks involved in traveling with pets.
“Disease Aside, significant animal threats exist for owners while traveling with pets.”
1. Potential Travel Diseases
Leishmaniosis is a disease caused by Leishmania infantum. It can be acquired by pets travelling to areas of southern Europe, such as southern Spain or Italy. It is often called Mediterranean disease. Leishmaniosis is mainly transmitted by biting sand flies, however, can be transmitted dog to dog via blood transfusions or congenital transfer. The incubation period is often lengthy, ranging from one month to several years.
- Weight loss
- Painful joints
- Ocular disease
- Skin lesions
- Ulceration or crusting
Diagnosis is commonly confirmed in non-endemic areas by;
- Identifying organisms in pet’s macrophages
- Finding a positive antibody titre
The treatment can make the symptoms better, but it doesn’t work very often, so the overall prognosis isn’t good. Antimony (meglumine antimoniate), allopurinol, and a mixture of miltefosine and allopurinol are all used as treatments. Vaccination is available in some countries.
“People who travel with their pets should know about the risk of leishmaniosis and take steps to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes or sandflies.”
Dirofilariasis, also called “heartworm,” is a parasitic disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis. It is found all over the world in places where the temperature is optimal for the mosquito intermediate host to grow up.
Due to a long prepatent period (approx. 120 to 180 days), the first sign of illness may not be witnessed 5 to 7 months after infection. This is because the patent period of this infection is several years.
- Exercise intolerance
- Weight loss
“Signs vary due to the host’s immune response. Therefore, cats are more likely to be asymptomatic, which may lead to sudden death.”
- Diagnostic imaging findings(Echocardiography) by direct visualization of microfilariae on a blood smear.
- Antigen, Antibody or PCR testing.
Melarsomine dihydrochloride and microfilaricides are two drugs that are used to kill adult parasites. Well-known microfilaricides are; Ivermectin, milbemycin, selamectin, and moxidectin.
All pets that are going to endemic places, like Italy, Spain, Portugal, the south of France, Greece, Croatia, Bosnia and the Czech Republic, should get heartworm medication.
“Some places may not have mosquitoes in the winter (November to March) because the temperature-drop. So it’s important for pet owners to find out this information prior to travel, to know whether prophylaxis is required or not.”
iii. Echinococcus Granulosus
Echinococcus granulosus is a common tapeworm in Europe, especially on the islands of Sardinia, Sicily, and in some parts of Spain. Dogs and sometimes red foxes are the ultimate hosts for this parasite. Domestic cattle, people, and monkeys are the intermediate hosts. Hence, granulosus is a sickness that can be spread by animals.
Dogs rarely experience any symptoms, but the formation of hydatid cysts can cause lung disease and organ failure in intermediate hosts. There is also a risk of death from cyst release and anaphylaxis.
Adult tapeworm segments are small and don’t shed very often, which makes diagnosis hard. Diagnosis is based on size (2mm to 3mm), an ovoid shape and a single genital pore.
Rabies is caused by a virus in the group Lyssavirus in the family Rhabdoviridae. It can affect any warm-blooded animal, though some are more likely to get it than others. It is usually spread by biting and getting the virus into the body through the saliva. Rabies, on the other hand, is a zoonosis that can be life-threatening.
There are a lot of clinical signs, but neurological signs are generally most obvious. Additionally, the signs are fever, tiredness, changes in behavior, dilated eyes, ataxia, lower motor neuron paresis or paralysis, trouble swallowing, trouble speaking, problems with balance, seizures, and drooling.
Most of the time, a diagnosis is made after death because hosts with possible rabies should be put to sleep right away to protect human health. Also, once a patient shows signs of the disease, the illness is always fatal.
“Rabies is found all over the world. Some countries, like the UK, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan, Fiji, Hawaii, and Guam, are not affected by this virus.”
A solid treatment requires pets to be vaccinated as a form of prevention. This is a very important part of the scheme. It is also very important for people to know about the disease.
v. Babesiosis(Tick-borne disease)
Babesiosis is an infection caused by a protozoan parasite that is carried by ticks. It affects the red blood cells and can lead to hemolytic anemia. Even though bug bites are still the main way the disease is spread, dog bites and blood transfusions can also spread it. The bacteria B felis and B cati can make cats sick.ati.
Haemolytic anemia can cause fever, tiredness, and weakness, red or dark-colored pee and collapse. Eventually, serious anemia, jaundice, and the failure of several organs can happen. Dogs can become disease carriers if they get better after the first signs of illness.
If germs are found in the red blood cells, a diagnosis can be made. There are other blood tests and PCR that can be used.
- imidocarb dipropionate
- diminazene aceturate
- pentamidine isethionate
Even though these treatments work to reduce the number of parasites in the blood and get rid of clinical symptoms, it may not be possible to completely get rid of the babesia organism. So, any dog with Babesia should be thought of as a possible disease carrier for the rest of its life.
Ehrlichia are small bacteria that live inside cells and belong to the family Rickettsiae. They look like coccobacilli. Clinical disease can happen in cats, but it doesn’t happen very often.
Clinical signs can be painfully vague. In the early stages, depression, lethargy, fever, lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, and eye or nose discharge are some of the symptoms that may show up (including nosebleeds). After two to four weeks, these signs may go away. If they don’t, you may have a chronic infection, which can lead to a drop in platelets and signs of bleeding. There may also be a drop in the number of red blood cells and neutrophils.
A diagnosis is made, in some cases, by finding of morulae within cells. Serology or PCR are used to find out if someone has a sickness.
Doxycycline is the standard medicine for dogs who are sick. Since Ehrlichia may already be resistant to fluoroquinolone drugs, Enrofloxacin is not a good choice.
Mosquito prevention is very important for pets that are traveling abroad. Most people would advise to keep dogs inside at dusk, dawn, and early evening when mosquitoes are most active, use a mosquito repellent, get rid of or avoid areas with standing water, and change water bowls often(to remove any mosquito eggs). However, pet owners shouldn’t use products with N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) because pets could get sick if they eat it by mistake.
Ticks can be kept away by grooming and watching your pet carefully, which owners should do often. Whenever possible, a suggested product should be used to get rid of ticks. Fine tweezers could work as a substitute, but it is understood that the twisting action is important. If the tick is injured or stressed out during removal, or if the tick’s abdomen is torn open, or if the tick’s mouthparts are left behind, the risk of disease spread goes up. Because of this, it is important to stay away from old methods like petroleum jelly, alcohol, or fire.
Heatstroke is a condition that can be life-threatening and is caused by severe hyperthermia. This can happen to traveling pets if they are exposed to higher temperatures, but it can also be caused by too much movement. It causes heat injuries that can hurt all organs and have terrible results by causing multiple organ failure, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and central nervous system (CNS) dysfunction.
Dogs and cats should never be left in hot cars or other places that don’t have enough airflow while traveling. Pet owners should put sunblock on their pets’ noses, bellies, ears, and groins, which may be open to the sun. Sunburn is more likely to happen to pets that don’t have much hair, don’t have any hair, don’t have color on their skin, or have had radiation therapy before.
Sunscreen made for pets is better than sunscreen made for human beings, which may contain zinc oxide, which is toxic to dogs if they accidentally eat it. There are bodysuits that fully block UV radiation for pets (that don’t have hair or have very little hair).
Heatstroke is treated by lowering the body’s core temperature, supporting the heart’s function, replacing fluids and nutrients, and taking care of any other problems that may be present or come up. (some may be delayed, occurring 48 hours to 72 hours post-presentation). But it is best to cool the animal as soon as possible. You can do this by soaking it in cool water or spraying it with it.
Avoid freezing water because it causes peripheral vasoconstriction, which impairs the heat loss. A massage can also help the body lose heat. Usually, you want your body temperature to be around 39°C (102°F).
5. Travel Stress
Some pets are better at traveling than others, but all of them can get distressed. Cats are more likely to get stressed out. So, everything should be done to make travel as stress-free as possible. For Pet owners to feel less stressed, they need to think about the following questions:
- Is the pet’s box or travel basket the right size?
- Sedatives should only be used when told to by a vet, but there are times when they are needed.
- Is getting sick on a trip a worry? If that’s the case, antiemetic drugs might help, and again, these would be given by a doctor.
- Would it be good to get pets used to riding in cars? Short to medium trips that don’t matter much may help you feel better about traveling and get over your fears.
- Is flight stress a particular concern? Before going on a long trip, owners might want to talk to a veterinary behaviorist about how to handle their pets.
When traveling with pets, owners must know about a few matters to keep in mind. They should take measures to make travel less stressful for pets so that they can enjoy their vacations just as much as their owners. This blog talked about the dangers of infectious diseases, mosquitos, travel stress, and heat and sun damage, as well as how to avoid them.