As epidemic specialists well know, the rise of diseases thought to be extinguished or with low prevalence rates depends, among other things, on the population movements. Some outbreaks of human diseases, that were almost non-existent, are starting to arise in some first world countries receiving massive influxes of immigrants coming from Africa and Asia.

This also happens with our pet animals. Firstly, we are having more animals registered in our country and a great amount of animals are coming from other parts of the world. Many puppies from the East of Europe are coming into our country and are delivered to pets shops by certain dealers. Many of these animals are grown in ‘dog farms’ where the hygienic and health conditions and the animal welfare are not monitored at all. The authorities in these countries are aware of the fact that most of these dogs will go out of their country and they do not bother about the animals having hereditary diseases and they happily export ill animals, or those with congenital diseases. As a consequence, there is an increase in all the congenital, infectious and parasite diseases that adopt atypical forms making it difficult to detect and diagnosis becomes even harder.

As some examples, we can mention the increase of some parasite diseases such as giardiosis which causes diarrhoea in puppies, or demodecico or Cheilletla mange, or viral gastroenteritis by new strains of coronavirus, rotavirus and parvovirus. When I started working 20 years ago, it was usual to see dogs with distemper. Some years later, this disease almost disappeared, but now we can see many animals suffering from some sub-clinical or atypical signs of this disease again.

Leishmaniosis is wreaking havoc in Spain and is one of the diseases that is now getting more and more widespread due to there being more dogs and also more mosquitoes transmitting it. There is now a vaccine to protect against this disease, but it is fairly expensive.

Infections like feline coronavirus, kennels cough, filariosis and even toxoplasmosis are some other diseases often seen in many dogs, especially those imported from countries with very poor health records. The solution to this problem is in everybody’s hands. Health authorities should regulate and control the trade and traffic of pet animals better. The professionals in this field should also be more careful when choosing pet suppliers. Pet owners should take their animals regularly to the vets who will look after their health and vets should be more involved in the prevention of these diseases.

Article written and supplied by Paco,
Clinica Veterinaria, Puerto de Mazarrón.