The Roaring Fork Valley is not just one of the greatest places for people to live, it’s a great place to be a dog or cat too. Generally speaking, the Roaring Fork Valley experiences much lower populations of most parasites common in other parts of the country such as fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites.
If you are new to the valley or just visiting, there are a few things you should know:
1. Predators abound. Pets, especially cats, are susceptible to predators such as coyotes and mountain lions who also call the valley home. Be sure to remain in close contact with your pets whenever you are recreating outside or allowing them access to outside areas such as fenced yards. Each year, several pets are lost to predators and it is important to remain aware of them.
2. Porcupines can kill. Dogs are very curious and some dogs have a very intense instinct to pursue potential prey species while hiking or camping. Porcupine quills represent a potentially life threatening problem for dogs who attempt to grab a porcupine with their mouth. If your dog gets quilled, seek immediate veterinary care. In order to safely and effectively remove quills, sedation and even surgery is often necessary. Left untreated, quills can result in abscesses, infections of body cavities and serious complications.
3. Lice are an itchy problem. With the low incidence of other parasites in the valley, many dog owners choose not to use monthly parasite controls routinely used in other parts of the country. Dog lice have used this situation to their advantage and are more common in the valley than elsewhere. If your dog has no history of allergy and becomes itchy they should be checked by a veterinarian for lice.
4. Nasal mites are common. They have taken advantage of the low incidence of monthly parasite controls in the valley to become well established in the dogs here. Spread by direct contact with infested individuals, nasal mites live in the nasal cavity and result in mild irritation of the upper airway most commonly causing what is described as a “reverse sneeze”. If your dog displays this sort of behavior, nasal mites are almost certainly the problem. There are other possibliities of course so contact your veterinarian for consultation.