Did You Know? Interesting Facts About Pet PestsDr. Jim Fredericks
Monday, June 2, 2014
When the family goes outside to play, it isn't just the kids
bringing unwanted pests back inside. Animal fur is ideal for pet
pests such as fleas and ticks to grab onto as Fido explores the
have unique adaptations that make them well suited to finding and
feeding on mammals to survive. Keep reading to find out facts you
may never have known about these tiny pests.
All about ticks
- Must love dogs - Some tick species have preferred hosts. The American
dog tick prefers to feed on domestic dogs and therefore is one
of the most common tick species brought into homes.
- All you can eat buffet - Ticks are much easier to spot after a
meal. Some species will grow almost four times in size when
engorged with blood.
- High four - To find a host, ticks clasp onto shrubs or grass
with their back legs and reach their front legs out to grasp onto
passing fur or clothing.
- Moving up in the world - Wherever they attach, ticks will crawl
toward the head of their host. The skin around the neck and ears is
thinner and these areas are also hardest for animals to groom.
All about fleas
- Good vertical - Fleas can jump up to eight feet, which is 150
times their own height.
- Here to stay - Unlike other pests, fleas typically remain on
their host at all times. However, they are easily transferable to
furniture or between animals.
- Black sheep of the family - There are more than 2,000 known
species and subspecies of fleas, but one species - the cat flea -
accounts for the majority of infestations in the United
- Don't blame the dog - Fleas infest many animals like rodents
and raccoons as well. If you suspect a rodent infestation, fleas
may soon follow.
Pet pests pose unique threats to both people and pets as they
are easily transferable, difficult to spot and carriers of multiple
diseases. While fleas are primarily an itchy annoyance, they can
cause flea allergy dermatitis, transfer tapeworms and in rare
cases, transmit bubonic plague if they've fed on an infected
rodent. Ticks are not as noticeable as fleas but they are known to
carry very serious diseases such as
Lyme disease and cause "tick paralysis" in animals.
Homeowners should thoroughly check pets' fur for fleas and ticks
after they've been out in the yard or at the park as these pests
can certainly infest homes. One of the easiest ways to do a pest
check is by brushing the animal's fur and using your hand to smooth
fur along the body. Also, be on the lookout for skin irritations on
your pet and excessive scratching, both of which are good
indicators of fleas or ticks. If you suspect you have an
infestation in the home, consult a pest professional to
recommend the best treatment option.