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Pet Diseases on the Rise in NJ [AUDIO]

Feline FIV, or AIDS, and Lyme disease in dogs are on the rise. In fact, since 2009 feline FIV is up 48 percent and canine Lyme disease has seen a 21 percent spike, according to Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2014 Report.

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(Theo Heimann, Getty Images News)

The good news is there are steps pet owners can take to protect their pets.

Feline FIV is mostly spread through blood and saliva. Cats are either born with the disease, can contract it by nursing from an infected mother or can become infected through bite wounds, which is most common among outdoor cats that get involved in fights.

“When people first get a cat, they should get them tested. If it comes back negative, and the cat is an indoor cat, then they are likely going to stay negative. There is no vaccine for FIV, so prevention is about keeping them inside and reducing their exposure to infected cats,” said Dr. Peter Falk, owner of Ocean County Veterinary Hospital.

According to the report, Lyme disease in dogs is up 21 percent. Better testing and increased awareness are partially responsible for the increase, according to Falk. Lyme disease is preventable.

“We can vaccinate for Lyme disease. In addition, tick control is important. Inspect your pets every night and discuss tick control products with your veterinarian. There are many products on the market which are much better than they’ve been in the past.  Some of them actually have repellant qualities to them that kill the ticks,” he said.

When an infected tick bites a dog, it takes at least 24 hours for the germs in the tick to enter the bloodstream of the dog, so Falk recommends products that kill the tick within the first day.

To see the report in its entirety, visit

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