Protect Your Pet From Summer PestsMissy Henriksen
Friday, June 21, 2013
Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes Can Bug Pets, Too
officially arrived and all members of the family, including the
four-legged variety, will be spending more time outdoors soaking up
the sunshine. However, pesky pests such as ticks,
fleas and mosquitoes
can quickly ruin a warm-weather day, especially for pets such as
dogs and cats that can’t quite protect themselves the same way
Each of these pests poses different dangers for furry family
members, but by employing some key prevention tips, owners can
ensure their animals stay pest-free this summer.
Whether hiking in the woods or simply enjoying a barbeque in the
park, people and animals are likely to encounter these bloodthirsty
pests during the warmer months. Ticks pose a number of health
threats as they can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease,
ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis and "tick paralysis" among others. While
some symptoms can surface immediately after a tick bite, others can
be difficult to recognize and many owners may not realize their pet
is sick until the symptoms become severe and significant treatment
In addition to tick collars, medications and annual check ups,
NPMA experts recommend the following tick tips:
- Upon returning indoors, inspect dogs and outdoor cats
- If a tick is found attached, it should be removed with a slow,
steady pull so as not to break off the mouthparts and leave them in
the skin. If possible, it’s best to use forceps or tweezers and
grab on or just behind the mouthparts. If using fingers, the
fingernails of the thumb and forefinger should be placed on or just
behind the mouthparts. Once removed, flush the tick down the toilet
or wrap it tightly in tissue before disposing in a closed
receptacle since ticks are difficult to smush. Then, wash hands and
the attachment site thoroughly with soap and water.
- Keep grass cut low, including around fence lines, sheds, trees,
shrubs, swing sets and other difficult to cut locations and remove
weeds, woodpiles and other debris from the yard.
- Inquire about lawn tick treatments; especially those that focus
on the edges of the lawn where it interfaces with natural areas.
This method has the greatest chance of preventing ticks from
establishing themselves in your back yard.
- Speak to a veterinarian about tick collars and medications.
According to a
new tick survey from the NPMA, only 35 percent of respondents
ensure pets have preventative tick treatments.
Dogs and cats most often get infested with fleas through contact
with other animals or by spending time outdoors. Most pets
experience itching from fleas, but some sensitive animals can have
more severe reactions such as hair loss, inflammation and secondary
skin infections. Flea saliva can also cause anemia, dermatitis, and
facilitate the transfer of tapeworms. Because of fleas’ ability to
jump great heights, they are easily able to hitchhike into homes
while hidden in the fur of family pets. Once inside, fleas quickly
multiply and infest bedding, furniture and clothing.
Because fleas can quickly become a big problem, prevention is
the best way for pet owners to avoid a major headache. NPMA
- Discuss which preventative measures are best with your
- Bathe their pets regularly.
- Frequently wash human and pet bedding, pet collars and their
- Vacuum carpets, floors and furniture on a regular basis.
One of the best known summer pests, mosquitoes breed in stagnant
water and have an extremely fast life cycle allowing for quick
population growth. Mosquito larvae hatch within a few days and a
full adult develops in 10 to 14 days from hatching.
Just like humans, animals are at high risk for contracting
severe illnesses as a result of mosquito bites. In addition to West
Nile virus, heartworm is of most concern for pet owners as each
year thousands of dogs become disabled or die from problems caused
by heartworm disease. Although heartworm is less fatal in cats, it
can cause a number of problems such as weight loss, blindness,
seizures, difficulty breathing and coughing.
NPMA suggests the following mosquito prevention tips in and
around the home:
- Prevent mosquito nesting and breeding sites by eliminating
standing water and other sources of moisture in or around the home
in flowerpots, water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, baby
pools, sandboxes, children’s toys and other objects that can
collect water. Mosquitoes need only about ½ inch of water to breed.
To keep birdbath and pond water fresh, homeowners should add a
fountain or drip system.
- Keep windows and doors properly screened. Repair even the
smallest tear or hole.
- Clean clogged gutters and periodically check them to ensure
water is flowing freely.
- Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when
mosquitoes are most active.
- Ask veterinarians about bug repellants for pets before using
- If you are concerned about mosquito activity on your property,
contact a pest management company or local mosquito abatement
district that may be able to treat your back yard, specifically
trees and shrubs where mosquitoes hide during the day.
To learn more about pet pest prevention, watch our
Pest 101 video on protecting your pet from common pests.