As the weather warms up, many people like to take their dogs for long walks or let their cats frolic outside. While you’re having fun in the sun, however, pests like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes can tag along for the ride.
These pests can be a real nuisance, irritating your pet’s skin or even causing disease. To help keep your pets happy and healthy, Mark Beavers, Ph.D., Orkin entomologist, offers these tips on protecting your furry friends from biting pests during the summer season.
Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes all draw blood from their hosts at some point in their lifecycle, and Beavers said spotting the adults is the easiest way to tell if your pet has been affected.
- Fleas: Usually, adult fleas are easy to see when they jump on you or your pet, or when you see them crawling along on your pet’s skin. Beavers said that if your pet is being bitten by fleas, they will often repeatedly scratch and groom themselves.
- Ticks: Ticks crawl about on vegetation, waiting for potential hosts – like pets – to walk by. They attach themselves to a host for days at a time, and most swell up as they feed. Ticks can transmit diseases like Lyme disease, which in rare cases can result in kidney failure for dogs, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is seen in dogs and sometimes in cats. Beavers said that the disease pathogens are often transmitted within the first 24 hours, so it’s best to remove the tick quickly. Check your pets for ticks daily, especially after they spend time outdoors.
- Mosquitoes: Just like people, pets can fall victim to mosquitoes. Mosquito bites on pets aren’t always obvious. However, some mosquitoes can transmit potentially fatal heartworm disease. While it may be tempting, do not use human mosquito repellents on your pet. You may see mosquitoes flying around or landing on your pet when it’s hot outside, so be on the lookout.
Prevention and Treatment
Beavers advises taking these steps at home to reduce the number of fleas, ticks and mosquitoes on your property:
- Adult fleas like humidity and shade, so eliminate shaded areas around your home.
- Remove unkempt grass and weeds, prune bushes and generally maintain your yard to reduce the number of ticks, mosquitoes and fleas on vegetation. Keep leaf litter to a minimum, as pests like to live in this damp, protected shelter.
- Keep raccoons, opossums, deer and rodents off your property, as these animals can carry ticks and fleas.
- Remove standing water from gutters and frequently change out water in bird baths, fountains and potted plants.
- Frequently vacuum, wash and dry indoor and outdoor pet bedding.
- Regularly groom and bathe your pet to help identify and prevent problems.
- Discuss prevention strategies with your veterinarian and have them check your pet for pests if you are worried. Your vet can recommend special flea and tick collars, treatments and shampoos to help protect your pet.
To keep pests out of your home and away from your pets, work with your pest management provider to create a prevention and treatment plan. For more pest prevention tips, or to bring in a professional to assess your pest activity, visit Orkin.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
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