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Published: Apr 24, 2012

Domestic animals are subject to a number of diseases, but as spring nears, authorities are warning about three in particular - heartworm, rabies and distemper. There have been a number of instances of wild animals exhibiting clinical signs of rabies and distemper and there are several ways owners can protect their pets.

In Mississippi, Animal Control officers have reported high numbers of diseased wildlife lately, particularly within the city of Columbus. A particularly strong strain of distemper is being spread in the area, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Distemper is highly contagious, and because it affects the neurological system, it may cause excessive drooling, head-shaking, confusion and seizures in dogs.  The Army Surgeon General has also issued orders recently to all five Army Regional Medical Commands to raise awareness about the threat of rabies.  Luckily, these contagious and common diseases can be avoided with proper vaccinations and owners must stay up to date on dog vaccinations to protect their pets.  It is also important to limit your pet’s exposure to wildlife by keeping them on a leash when outdoors, keeping yards fenced and trash cans in a secure and locked area outdoors to avoid wildlife from coming near your home.

Heartworm risk is also incredibly high in Mississippi and across the nation, thanks to a warm winter and an early spring that has allowed mosquitoes, the carriers of the disease, to thrive. Fortunately, there are monthly preventative medications that also protect your pet from intestinal parasites and can eliminate the risk of heartworm in dogs.