Your Pet, The Rains and You- Rainy Season Caveats to Heed
Of “cats and dogs” not literally but very nearly so; the rains have come down hard these past few weeks, they still are, felling fences and flooding homes in its course. It even rendered some roads momentarily impassable such as the area 49-18 road in Lilongwe. There was much relief when the rains started, in these times when rainfall is quite unpredictable, any consistency of the shower is very encouraging to the general population, many of which survive on crops they grow for subsistence. But as has been the case in recent days, the downpour has been magnanimous, to the effect of causing chaos. One now is not quite sure whether to complain or remain happy, as it is; at least the much required rain for power generation is upon us but many other sections of society are inconvenienced by the magnitude and strength of the rain.
Have you considered what this means for the animals around us? The pets, the livestock, even the wild? We are surrounded by a myriad of other living organisms with which we share the environment. What type of bearing do these wet conditions have on the different species living around us? Do these bearings, in turn, have a bearing on us?
If you are a pet owner, can you tell when your dog is having a fever? Do you notice when your cat suddenly stops being playful and when the food it previously pined for doesn’t appeal to it anymore. When it rains, just as humans, our pets also require attention and protection from the elements. Just as humans, animals also get sick from exposure to adverse weather conditions. In animals, dirty stagnant water that may accumulate from the rains could cause sickness just as it would in humans. Still water puddles may contain chemicals toxins and also harmful bacteria.
In dogs, a common condition is called Leptosporosis. The signs of ‘Lepto’ are somewhat similar to the symptoms of Malaria in human beings; ‘Lepto’ symptoms include sudden fever, sore muscles manifested in a reluctance to move about. Apart from this, ‘Lepto’ is also characterized by stiffness of muscles and a stiff gait, you may also notice that your pets are experiencing depression and a loss of appetite. They may also urinate frequently and be very thirsty which could be a sign of renal failure.
Although it is rare, ‘Lepto’ can be communicated to humans. In humans, sometimes it may occur without symptoms, or may occur with symptoms that are similar to other symptoms of other illnesses. High fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, rash all of which may be misinterpreted as other illnesses but if untreated, ‘Lepto’ in humans could lead to meningitis, kidney failure, liver damage, respiratory discomfort or even death. It is highly important that humans should refrain from walking through rain water puddles to avoid infection.
‘Lepto’ can be prevented by yearly vaccinations of the animal, but if vaccination was missed or if the dog or cat should fall sick, it is important that it be treated aggressively. Treatment for ‘Lepto’ will include the use of antibiotics as prescribed by your vet. It is also important to treat your pet with antibiotics if infected because it will assist in protecting you and your family. It is also important to avoid contact with your pet’s urine and to disinfect any spots that your pet may have urinated in. Ensure also that your pet does not urinate in standing water and remember to thoroughly wash your hands after handling your pet.