DETROIT – Veterinarians are offering tips to protect pets from Eastern equine encephalitis amid an outbreak of the mosquito-borne illness in Michigan.
There have been eight human cases and 23 animal cases of EEE confirmed in the state this year.
"EEEV remains extremely rare in dogs, and even more rare in cats," said Jessica Romine, a veterinarian at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Southfield.
Concerns about the safety of family pets is growing, however, after a wolf pup at a Michigan zoo died from EEE.
Pet safety tips:
• Keep dogs inside during the time of high mosquito activity from dusk to dawn.
• Remove stagnant or standing water, for instance rid flower pots of water accumulation and remove any containers in which water can collect.
• Remove piles of decomposing leaves, lawn clippings, and manure.
• Check screens and repair any holes.
• Avoid turning on lights outdoors during the evening and overnight-mosquitoes are attracted to light.
• Apply mosquito repellents approved for animal use. Read the product label before using, and follow all instructions carefully–particularly, when it comes to cats.
What to apply:
Repellents used on humans are generally not approved for use on pets. Some flea and tick products that contain mosquito repellent, such as K9 Advantix (only for dogs), can be purchased over the counter. Typically, flea and tick products that work the best are those prescribed by your veterinarian (e.g. Simple Guard or Vectra 3D – only for dogs). Work with your veterinarian to determine safe mosquito repellents that can be used on your pet.
Cats and Repellents
What's considered safe ingredients for dogs and humans may be toxic to cats.
"The most commonly encountered toxins are pyrethroids such as permethrin or pyrethrin, which should never be used in cats," Romine said. "I have seen several cases of cats showing severe neurological problems as a result of having been exposed to pyrethrin-containing, dog-only products, which people often misinterpret as signs of rabies or EEEV."
The best way to avoid pyrethroid toxicity in cats is by reading labels and staying clear of products that are marked "for dogs only."
What Not to Apply
DEET is the most effective mosquito repellents for humans, but should not be applied to dogs or cats. This chemical is toxic when ingested, and dogs and cats may lick it off after application.
Signs of DEET ingestion may include:
• Wobbly gait
• Loss of appetite
If your pet has ingested DEET, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital.
EEEV signs that pet owners can look for:
• Loss of appetite
• Uncoordinated movement
• Head pressing