Early, Heavy Pest Season Puts Pets at Increased Risk

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pests including ticks, fleas and mosquitoes are already out in full force, their heavy populations and early arrival an effect of an especially wet, warm spring. Pet owners should be cautious this season, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) says, as dogs, cats and other pets are especially susceptible to health risks posed by such pests.

Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms to pets, which can result in severe lung and heart disease. Ticks spread bacteria to pets that can cause diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. More, female ticks can cause a condition called "tick paralysis" if they attach near a pet's spinal cord. This condition causes muscle weakness, loss of coordination and in some cases, death from respiratory failure as chest muscles become paralyzed.

The saliva of fleas can cause anemia, dermatitis, and transfer tapeworms in pets. Fleas also have an extraordinary ability to jump great heights, which allows them to easily hitchhike into a home while hidden in the fur of a family pet. Once inside, fleas quickly multiply and infest bedding, furniture and clothing.

"Pet owners should take special care to protect their pets from ticks, fleas and mosquitoes this season," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. "Always inspect pets' coats thoroughly after they spend time outdoors and work with a pest professional if these pests make their way indoors."

The NPMA also recommends these tips to keep your pet safe from pests:

  • Keep an eye on pets for excessive scratching or licking.
  • Avoid walking pets in tall grass where pests often gather.
  • Wash pet bedding, plush toys, and vacuum frequently.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about treatment options to protect your pet, and seek medical advice if ticks or fleas are found on your pet.
  • If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional.

To learn more or to find a pest professional, visit www.pestworld.org

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

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