Dog Cat Love

Protecting Animals Against Infectious Disease, Plan A (and Plan B!)

0 6

“What is the best thing we can do to protect the animals in our care from infectious diseases?”

It’s a question commonly asked of the ASPCA’s Shelter Medicine Services, and it’s a good one! We all want to do the best we can for the animals in our care, and that includes minimizing the risk that they become ill. It would be great if there were a magic bullet out there—something that we shelter vets could say, “Just do this.” While that unfortunately is not the case, the good news is that there are a number of key tools in our tool box that we can rely on to greatly minimize the risk of infectious diseases in shelters.

“Our efforts don’t have to be perfect to have a big impact, and there are a lots of things that we can do to minimize exposure and reduce the dose the animals are exposed to.”

Broadly speaking, I think of the various preventive strategies we have available to us as falling into two big buckets.

Plan A: Prevent exposure to the organisms that cause disease


Plan B: Strengthen the animals’ ability to resist infection if exposure occurs

Notice the great big bold “AND” there? Although I named them Plan A and Plan B, we should be implementing the plans simultaneously. This is critical in giving ourselves a bit of a built-in safety net, because the reality is, despite our best efforts, we can’t eliminate all disease exposure that might occur… and we don’t want to be scrambling to try to put Plan B into effect after the need arises!

Preventing exposure may sound like a daunting task, one that might not even be worth trying to tackle. Our efforts don’t have to be perfect to have a big impact, and there are lots of things that we can do to minimize exposure and reduce the dose the animals are exposed to. This is critical, as the dose an animal is exposed to can influence whether or not he or she becomes sick and, if they do become sick, how severe their symptoms are and how long the illness lasts for.

Your Guide to Plan A
Some of the strategies (many of which overlap) for minimizing exposure include:

  • Avoiding overcrowding—operating within the organization’s capacity for care
  • Reducing length of stay
  • Excellent sanitation procedures
  • Fomite control
  • Using personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Hand hygiene protocols
  • Strong biosecurity protocols, including attention to traffic patterns within the facility, staff assignments and order of sanitation and animal care
  • Appropriate use of animal housing
  • Segregating animal populations

Many of these strategies are foundational elements of our animal care operations, and their importance should not be underestimated. Constantly reviewing SOPs—both as they are written and as they are carried out by staff and volunteers—is invaluable in helping ensure our efforts are as impactful as they can be in keeping the animals healthy. However, it is a virtual certainty that no matter how exemplary, our efforts under Plan A will sometimes fail us for a variety of reasons. And that is why working on Plan B strategies at the same time is so critical.

Your Guide to Plan B
Strategies that strengthen the animals’ ability to resist infection include:

  • Excellent animal husbandry and care
  • Adequate nutrition
  • Vaccination
  • Treating concurrent medical conditions
  • Reducing stress

Which tools are you currently using? Which ones might you want to add to your tool box or consider upgrading to a ‘newer model’?

Stay tuned to this space for more, as I’ll be digging in to the details on some of these strategies in future blog posts.

Related posts:

How To Tell If Pet Health Insurance Is Right For You
Kitten Stuck in Tree – And so was Her Rescuer
This Organization Is Turning “Throw Away Dogs” Into K-9 Heroes!
When an injured stray found her way to their porch, this family opened their hearts. Betsy stepped r...
Dogs Getting Downward, Upward, and Stretching
Better scoop that evidence! DNA testing to bust irresponsible dog owners is catching on
Dog Flu Hits Again – Here’s How to Keep Yours Safe
World's Most Amazing Dog Contest Is LIVE!
Litter Box Problems
This Just In: Announcing the Top 10 Toxins of 2018!
For the Eleventh Year in a Row, Subaru “Shares the Love” in a Big Way
Two Special Needs Cats Find What It Truly Means to Be a Family
What to Expect at the Emergency Veterinarian After a Toxin Exposure
Zeppoli Finds a New Home by a “Chance” Encounter
ADT Partners with ASPCA to Further Protect People and Their Pets

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.