The number of pet owners is on the rise, particularly in major cities. For many city residents who live on their own, dogs are faithful partners and best friends in every situation. Regular health screening is important for them as well – for example, to protect them against parasites.
Along lie in? That hasn’t been an option for Evelyn Tan for some time now. Every morning, the 42-year-old is woken up bright and early by her poodle Doudou pawing impatiently at her covers. “He’s not allowed in the bed, so this is how he tries to get me up.” Evelyn smiles and strokes her dog lovingly on the head.
The white poodle has been living with Evelyn and her parents in Shanghai for seven years. “He was found by a friend of mine who spent two months looking for his owner. In the end I adopted him,” explains Evelyn. “I was mainly thinking about my mother, who suffers from dementia. Contact to dogs is supposed to have a positive impact on the course of the disease.” Back then, it was still very unusual to adopt a dog. “But now it is absolutely normal in Shanghai.”
As in many major cities around the world, the number of people with companion animals in Shanghai is on the rise. For people who feel isolated in the anonymity of a big city, pets are loyal partners, best friends and even therapists.
Evelyn has seen the transformation in her city as well. “In the old days in China, the whole family lived together, from grandmother to grandchildren,” she explains. “Now young people often move away for professional reasons, leaving their parents behind on their own.” A pet can relieve loneliness while at the same time improving their lifestyle habits. “Being a dog owner means that you get fresh air every day and form friendships with other dog owners.” Some companies now even organize family days to which companion animals are expressly invited.
In the case of the Tans, Doudou is very much part of the family and has made a positive impact on the lives of Evelyn and her parents. For Evelyn’s sick mother, who now lives in a care home, Doudou is a close friend who never fails to cheer her up when he visits. For Evelyn, who now lives on her own, he is a loyal partner with whom she spends her leisure time. And even Evelyn’s dad, who was initially strictly opposed to a pet, has become extremely fond of Doudou.
To make sure that Doudou gets enough exercise in Shanghai, Evelyn regularly takes him to dog parks. After she gets home from work in the evening, she goes into the kitchen to prepare a fresh, well-balanced meal for her pet. That makes her an exception in China, however; most dog owners give their pets commercial dog food.
The marketing manager naturally also pays attention to Doudou’s health: the poodle has had his shots and Evelyn takes him to the veterinarian for regular check-ups. “Many of my fellow countrymen do not get their dogs vaccinated. That’s dangerous,” she says. “We have a major problem with rabies and viral diseases in this country. Much of it could be avoided if everybody got their dogs checked over and vaccinated.” Particularly problematic are viral diseases such as distemper and parvovirus.
For at least 15,000 years
People and dogs have been living together.
To keep Doudou’s coat free from parasites, he is brushed after every walk, particularly in the summer. Even so, she recently had to take her dog to the vet: he had fleas. Her veterinarian explained the importance of prevention to her. He recommended medications that are effective against fleas and even prevent them from biting.
After all, dogs run the risk of getting parasites on their coats after even the shortest of walks – or even after taking a few steps through the front garden. Whether on lawns or in fields, parks or forests: fleas, ticks, lice and stable flies lurk everywhere in nature, waiting for a suitable host to walk by.
Some of them even move from one host to the next, meaning that even the slightest contact to other animals is associated with a risk of infection for dogs. What’s more, the bites of these tiny insects are not only unpleasant, they can also transmit disease pathogens, and many of these diseases are harmful to both the dogs and humans.
Parasites – Dangerous Disease Carriers
Ticks, fleas, mosquitoes, lice and stable flies are also referred to as ectoparasites. They sting or bite their hosts so that they can feed on their body fluids. While doing so, they can transmit dangerous disease pathogens to humans or animals. Ticks, for example, can transmit the pathogen of borreliosis and infect the host with Rickettsia bacteria. Dogs bitten by an infected tick can also contract babesiosis, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. All of these diseases can take a serious course if they remain untreated.
For dogs, even a harmless mosquito bite can very quickly become dangerous. These insects are vectors of the Dirofilaria immitis worm that can cause canine heartworm disease, which is particularly prevalent in Southern Europe, Canada, the United States, South America, Australia and Asia. The worms infest the right ventricle and pulmonary arteries of dogs bitten by mosquitoes. The first symptoms generally do not emerge until months or even years after infection. Heartworm infections are difficult to treat and therefore frequently have a fatal outcome.
To make it easier for Evelyn to protect her dog, the veterinarian suggested a different product. “He recommended switching to a product with an active ingredient that I can drip directly on to the dog’s skin,” explains Evelyn. “It doesn’t bother Doudou at all.” Collars can also offer protection. “Parasites like ticks and fleas are effectively repelled and killed before they can bite and transmit diseases, for a period of up to eight months,” says Markus Edingloh, Head of Veterinary Scientific Excellence at Bayer Animal Health, explaining how these products work.
Parasites like ticks and fleas are effectively repelled and killed before they can bite and transmit diseases.
Evelyn and Doudou often travel out into the green belt around Shanghai. And while Doudou savors his leash-free exercise and romps around happily, Evelyn can switch off and refresh her batteries after her stressful daily routines. “For me these are the best moments after a long week of work,” she says. “Doudou gives me and my parents so much love and happiness, and that is a thousand times more important than being able to sleep long on Sunday mornings.”