The RSPCA has voiced fears that climate change could increase diseasesin pets – and dogs may be the first victims of the spread of infectiousconditions.
According to the charity, the pet passport scheme could be increasing the spread of infectious diseases to dogs from the continent. In addition, dog rescue organisations and shelters may need to change their procedures as new diseases spread in the UK.
At the RSPCA’s Climate Change Conference on June 2 – believed to be the first of its kind – seven speakers will present new information on the effect of climate change on farm animal welfare, the spread of disease in dogs and effects on wildlife.
An RSPCA spokesman said: “There is a lot of science on the effects of climate change on biodiversity and the effects of farm animals on climate change. This conference will consider for the first time the effects on animal welfare. The conference will provide new information on the effect of changes in the law such as the pet passport scheme and in particular gives veterinarians and dog rescue organisations new information on what emerging diseases to look out for.”
Sandy Trees, professor of veterinary parasitology at University of Liverpool, will address the possibility of how a warming planet may result in a rise in infectious diseases in pets.
He warned: “Just as human travel may expose us to new disease threats, so increasingly free pet animal movement threatens pet health. Compounded in the longer term by climate change, these two phenomena of globalisation and global warming may see new and serious dog diseases becoming established in the UK.”
Susan Shaw, from the University of Bristol, will highlight one example of this possible expansion of disease by presenting her research on the spread of heartworm, a parasitical disease spread by mosquitoes that affects dogs and some cats. It thrives in warmer conditions, and Dr Shaw will highlight the impact she believes its expansion will have on pet
owners, organisations and the vet profession.
For further details about the conferience, to be held at One Great George Street, London, visit www.rspca.org.uk/summerconference