Farm dog health risks
Your farm dog might be part of the working staff or just a loving family companion. Either way, the dog is up against a different set of health hazards than his urban cousins. It’s up to you to understand what those potential health risks are and do your best to prevent them.
Dr. Paul DeMars is a clinical associate professor at Oklahoma State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He says the environment a farm dog lives in can contribute to infectious diseases.
"Like leptospirosis, which is a bacterial disease transmitted in the urine of infected wildlife, primarily rats and raccoons. Dogs contract it by drinking contaminated water," says DeMars. "Some of these lepto strains can also come from cattle, so a working cattle farm, you’re going to have that as a risk. But, the chances of a dog getting sick from those strains are not as great as from the other ones."
Dogs that spend more time outside are at a greater risk for mosquito bites, which can transmit heartworm disease. He says fleas and ticks are another hazard in many areas of the country.
"You know, in a well-manicured back lawn their risks are pretty minimal. But, in the wilds where you have tall grass and leaf litter and all those types of things, then your risk of tick-borne illnesses rise spectacularly," he says. "So, good tick control, good parasite control, appropriate vaccinations, and then appropriate supervision all are the things we can do to mitigate those risks."
Your veterinarian is an ally in keeping the animal healthy and that starts with a visit to the vet every year.