10 Steps to Keep Your Pets Pest-FreeMissy Henriksen
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Preventing Fleas and Ticks on Dogs, Cats and Other Pets
As a pet owner, you know it is important to provide your pet
with regular exercise, a nutritious diet and lots of love and
affection. But you also have a responsibility to protect your pet
risks, such as those posed by pests. Ticks
can make your pets - and you - sick and can lead to infestations in
Ticks can be especially dangerous for pets, including animals
that spend any amount of time outdoors, such as dogs, cats, rabbits
and horses. As with humans, blacklegged deer ticks, which are most
common in the Northeastern U.S. can transmit Lyme disease to some
pets. In dogs, symptoms of Lyme disease can include fever,
decreased appetite, swollen, painful joints, lameness or limping,
lethargy and swollen lymph nodes. In serious cases, pets with Lyme
disease can develop kidney disease.
In addition to Lyme disease, ticks can also cause "tick
paralysis" in pets. Tick paralysis occurs when a female tick
attaches near a pet's spinal cord, causing muscle weakness, loss of
coordination and in some cases, death from respiratory failure as
chest muscles become paralyzed.
Pets that spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in wooded
areas or tall grasses, are more susceptible to ticks. However,
other animals can carry ticks into yards, allowing pets to pick
them up without ever leaving your property. Ticks can then hitch a
ride into your home on your pet, where they can bite humans and
Fleas are another common pest that can affect pets, especially
cats and dogs. The most common species of fleas plaguing American
homes and their domestic animals is the cat flea. Their bites can
cause itchy, red bumps that lead to excessive scratching. Fleas can
also cause conditions such as anemia and flea allergy dermatitis
and can transfer tapeworms.
Adult fleas lay their eggs on their host, where they hatch and
reproduce. Eggs can also roll off onto nearby surfaces such as
carpets, couches, pet bedding-usually anywhere a family pet has
access to and particularly likes to lay. Fleas can be
particularly hard to find since they are so small and move very
fast along the surface of the skin. In addition to being hard
to find, they breed fast. One adult flea can lay as many as 20 eggs
per day and the eggs typically hatch within 2 to 14 days. As a
result, a flea infestation can grow quickly. A large infestation of
fleas can be difficult and time consuming to eradicate. A flea
infestation in your home should always be left to licensed
professionals to handle. They will have the knowledge, tools
and experience to treat the infestation safely and effectively.
Of course, the best way to protect your pets and your home from
common household pests is to prevent an infestation before it ever
happens. Luckily, there are many steps pet owners can take to
protect their pets from pests like fleas and ticks:
- After walks or playtime outside, inspect your pet
thoroughly. Brush their coat to remove any debris or insects.
Be especially vigilant if your pet has been in wooded areas or high
grasses, where pests thrive.
- Bathe dogs regularly, using a shampoo that can kill pests.
- Be on the lookout for skin irritations on your pet, such as
bite marks or red, itchy skin. Excessive scratching is a good
indicator that they have skin irritations.
- If your pet has long hair, consider having them groomed in the
spring and summer, when ticks and fleas are most prevalent. Not
only will this help to prevent insects from latching onto their
long hair and help you to spot any that do, it will also help to
keep your pet cool during the warmest time of the year.
- Consult with a veterinarian to determine if a preventative
medicine is recommended for your pet.
- If you notice a change in your animal's behavior, such as lack
of appetite or decrease in energy, take them to your veterinarian
ASAP. This could be a sign of Lyme disease or other health issue
caused by pests.
- Wash your pet's bedding, crate, toys, food bowls and sleeping
areas on a regular basis.
- Keep your home clean and clutter-free to deter pest
infestations and make it easy to spot any pests that do find their
way indoors. Vacuum frequently and wash linens on a regular
- Keep your lawn cut short and gardens well maintained to prevent
breeding grounds for pests. Fleas and ticks often hide out in tall
- 10. If you find a tick on your pet, remove it
immediately, being careful to extract the head and mouthparts
completely. If your pet has fleas, bathe them and seek the consult
of a veterinarian.
- 11. If you suspect your home is infested with ticks or
fleas, contact a licensed pest professional.
By following these tips and keeping your pet (and your home!)
pest free, you'll help ensure that your pet has many happy, healthy
years ahead of them. For more information on ticks, fleas and
protecting your pets from pests, or to find a pest control
professional in your area, visit PestWorld.org.