Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
From  Issue
18 August 2002
West Nile Virus

By Jim Willis - [email protected] 

There is an e-mail making its rounds about the first confirmed case of WNV in a dog, a 2.5 yr. old Labrador Retriever in Georgia. The dog exhibited drooling, decreased appetite, and general symptoms of a neurological disorder. He was treated successfully with chloramphenicol and made a full recovery after 5 days. But before anyone panics - technically this is not the first case in a dog, although it may be the first in the US, and WNV was confirmed in a cat in 1999.

More info about WNV and mammals is at the Centers for Disease Control website. 

Dogs and cats are considered "incidental hosts." The virus is not expected to reach a lethal level in them and most mammals, they are expected to make a full recovery and WNV is not a reason to euthanize the animal. Taking all the precautions you'd take for yourself should be sufficient to protect your pets (don't keep standing water around, use a spray, stay indoors at dawn and dusk, stay away from mosquito breeding grounds, and continue your usual flea & tick prevention).

We don't keep outdoor cats and since cats groom themselves you have to be careful about what topical agents you apply to them. The following is the recipe for our homemade spray that we use on dogs/horses, and we've never had problems with fleas, ticks, flies or mosquitos. We mix it in a large spray bottle and reapply as often as necessary. If you live in an area with a high mosquito population, you'd need to reapply it more often. Don't get the spray in the eyes or on "privates."

Half apple cider vinegar (grocery store variety), half Listerine (or generic amber mouthwash), one ounce of pure citronella oil (from any horse supplier), one ounce of Avon Skin-so-Soft oil, one half-ounce bottle each of peppermint and lemon oils (available from some pharmacies; these two ingredients are probably not critical, but smell great). Spray the animal thoroughly and work into the coat with an old towel.

Of course there are commercially available sprays for dogs, but read the ingredients first, and note that some should not be used on cats.

Our dogs also get garlic in their food for all the usual reasons, and that probably also helps ward off mosquitos. (We've also never had any problems with vampires.)

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