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Essential Flood Safety Tips for Pet Owners: Protect Your Dogs and Cats

Can dogs get sick from flood water? With extra rain comes flooding, and with the rising water comes a new set of concerns for our pets. It pushes the wildlife and rodents into contact areas with pets, plus flying insects love the added moisture. As pet owners, how do you keep pets safe during a flood?

Are Mosquitoes A Problem for Dogs?

Mosquitoes use the new wet areas to reproduce and thrive. Pyrethrin sprays can successfully repel mosquitoes. Additionally, using two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water or a few drops of lavender oil can help repel pests on the deck or in the kennel area. This works well with Pyrethrins but is seldom enough by itself.

Heartworm From Mosquitoes

The risk of heartworm disease in dogs and cats will also increase with the mosquito problem. Mosquitoes carry heartworm and can transfer them to your pet when they feed. Symptoms of heartworm include cough, weight loss, exercise intolerance, panting, fainting, and edema in the legs. Heartworm can also lead to kidney failure and liver failure. Be sure all your pets are on a monthly heartworm preventative.

Can Dogs Get Lepto from Water?

Leptospirosis or “Lepto” is a bacterial infection shed in the urine, and urine-contaminated water is ideal for Lepto survival. Rodents and raccoons are the main shedders of Lepto after flooding, but many mammals can get Lepto, including humans. Dogs with Lepto have kidney and liver issues that are hard to treat, often resulting in death. If the dog survives, he may carry Lepto and become an intermittent shedder for the rest of his life.

The healthiest options for prevention are vaccines and simply not drinking runoff water. Two-way and four-way vaccines are available according to what Lepto strain is in your area. Breeding dogs located in Lepto areas should be vaccinated with a Lepto vaccine to prevent abortion. Although reactions are rare, watch your dogs closely after administering the Lepto vaccine.

Hot Spots on Dogs

“Hot spots in dogs,” also called Pyotraumatic Dermatitis, get their name from lesions that are warm to the touch. This acute, rapidly-developing, surface bacterial skin infection occurs as a result of self-inflicted trauma. Hot spots are common in hot, humid weather. Fleas are the most common stimulus but hot, wet weather, long thick coats, allergies, and anything that causes scratching can result in hot spots.

When treating hot spots, clip the hair from the lesions and then gently cleanse with a medicated shampoo to soothe the itch. Apply topical medications twice daily to lesions. Avoid medications that dry out the wound or contain alcohol, as the sting will draw attention to the site.

Ringworm on Cats and Dogs

Ringworm, a fungal infection, also increases with the hot, humid weather. Fungal infections are soil-born but require rougher surfaces to attach. Bruising, scratches, or hot spots can give fungal infections that foothold on skin. Shampooing and treating the dog will soothe the itch and kill the ringworm spores on the coat. Topical lesion treatment with an antifungal spray will speed the cure. Some animals require oral medications to get rid of the issue. Cats are especially susceptible to ringworm.

Can Dogs Get Bacterial Infection from Water?

Bacterial infections are also common with flooding, and disinfectants are important to keep them in check. If your kennel area is flooded, you need to use a good disinfectant, being careful to thoroughly clean and disinfect any moldy areas. If you have any questions about pet-safe disinfectants, call our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751.

Giardia in Water

Giardia is a one-celled, moisture-loving parasite that lives in the small intestine of infected animals. These animals shed Giardia in their stools, and flooding moves contaminated water to your area. Other pets can become ill from drinking or eating contaminated matter, so maintaining clean, well-drained kennels and exercise pens is essential. The primary symptom of Giardia is aggressive, mucusy diarrhea. Treat Giardia with appropriate dewormers and antibiotics.

By taking these precautions and staying informed, you can help keep your pets safe during flood conditions. For more information and resources, visit

dog in water
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