New course on healthy dog ownership

Invisible’s new continuing medical education course, “Zoonotic diseases and pet dogs,” discusses common diseases that can spread from dogs to humans, along with some simple prevention tips. It’s taught by Erin Lashnits, MS, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, a clinical assistant professor in small animal internal medicine at University of Wisconsin’s School of Veterinary Medicine. Her pedigree as a veterinarian and a dog lover includes an MS degree in biology from Stanford University, a DVM from Cornell University, and a PhD in comparative biomedical sciences from North Carolina State University.

It’s estimated nearly half of all U.S. households own one or more dogs (80 to 90 million total), and along with cohabitation comes additional disease risks. In this course, Dr. Lashnits covers diseases that can be transmitted from dogs, advice on how to safely import dogs from abroad, and preventative measures when introducing a new dog into a home.

Dr. Lashnits’ new dog checklist:

  • Make sure your dog is vaccinated, dewormed, and treated for fleas and ticks before taking it home.
  • Before letting a new dog roam free with other dogs, keep it separated for about a week, observing for any signs of disease.
  • Avoid feeding your dog raw food to prevent food-borne diseases.
  • Take your dog for routine veterinarian checkups.
  • Provide your dog with year-round flea, tick, and heartworm.
  • Review the CDC guidelines on importing dogs from abroad.

In Dr. Lashnits’ practice, she sees dog bites and flea- and tick-borne diseases as major disease risks. Fleas can carry Bartonella, plague, and rickettsia species. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, several deadly viruses, and a host of other pathogens.

She also offers a warning about dog kisses: “Try to train your dog not to lick you on the mouth, and if it does, wash your hands and face,” said Dr. Lashnits.

Dr. Lashnits goes on to explain how dogs can serve as sentinels for human disease, citing the use of dogs for tracking the alarming spread of invasive Asian longhorned ticks across the middle Atlantic states.

The Invisible Education Initiative, funded by the Montecalvo Foundation, provides free, accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses that focus on vector-borne and environmental illness within a One Health framework. These courses are available to clinicians and the public. To donate to this initiative and to learn about Invisible International, please go here

Watch here: