Protect Your Pet From Summer PestsBy Missy Henriksen
Monday, May 20, 2013
Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes Can Bug Pets, Too
Summer is finally here and all members
of the family, the two and 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. 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 is needed.
In addition to tick collars, medications and annual check ups,
NPMA recommends 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.
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
Because fleas can quickly become a big problem, prevention is
the best way for pet owners to avoid a major headache. NPMA
suggests owners discuss which preventative measures are best for
their pets as several effective products exist. Additionally, NPMA
encourages owners to bathe their pets frequently, regularly wash
human and pet bedding, pet collars and their plush toys, and 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.