Keep Pets Healthy in the "Dog Days" of Summer

Families enjoy spending time in the great outdoors during the summer months, and now, more than ever, pets are considered integral family members. Just as people must be aware of how insects and rodents can affect their health, they must also consider their pet's health, too. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) cautions pet owners that pet parasites are more prevalent in warmer months and can have appreciable health consequences for beloved pets.

Fleas, for example, are not simply a nuisance. Rather, their saliva can cause anemia, dermatitis and transfer tapeworms. Ticks can also be extremely hazardous to pet health. In fact, female ticks can attach near a pet's spinal cord, causing "tick paralysis." This condition causes muscle weakness, loss of coordination and in some cases, death from respiratory failure as chest muscles become paralyzed. Mosquitoes are another pet parasite that can transmit viruses, protozoa and heartworm.

"Humans love their pets but often forget that they must be protected from insects and rodents," says Jim Fredericks, technical services director for NPMA. "The same vigilance we recommend to humans for the protection of their own health must be extended to their animals, as pests can pose serious health risks to man's best friend and so many other cherished pets."

To avoid pet pests, NPMA advises pet owners to:

  • Check pets frequently for fleas, flea dirt and ticks, especially after being outdoors. Be aware of any excessive scratching, licking or grooming behavior.
  • Avoid walking pets in tall grass where fleas and ticks gather, and at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Treat the animal's environment: Wash pet bedding, plush toys; and vacuum frequently.
  • Speak with a veterinarian about prevention/treatment options including heartworm protection.
  • If confronted with a pest infestation in the home, contact a licensed pest professional to treat the problem.

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