How to keep your pets from bringing in pests
For many of us, our pets are a treasured part of the family, so when it comes to protecting our family and home from pests we can’t forget our furry friends.
Below are some pests that your little friend might accidentally bring into your home:
Fleas are a very common pest that can affect pets, especially cats and dogs. Fleas can cause intense itching, which can lead to skin inflammation and infection, as well as anemia, flea allergy dermatitis, and can transfer tapeworms.
Adult fleas lay their eggs on their host, where they hatch and reproduce. Eggs can also roll off onto nearby surfaces such as carpets, couches, pet bedding-usually anywhere a family pet has access to and particularly likes to lay. One adult flea can lay as many as 20 eggs per day and the eggs typically hatch within 2 to 14 days. As a result, a flea infestation can grow quickly. A large infestation of fleas can be quite difficult to get rid of.
Ticks attach themselves to the body by inserting their mouths inside the host’s skin, where they begin to feed on blood. These insects transmit diseases that are harmful to pets and owners alike. Certain species of ticks can carry pathogens that cause Lyme disease. This infection can also be transmitted to dogs and cats via tick bites. If left uncontrolled, Lyme disease can result in joint damage, heart complications, kidney failure, and neurological dysfunction. Infected cats may not always exhibit signs of Lyme disease; those that do might experience lameness, breathing difficulties, fever, and appetite loss.
In addition to Lyme disease, ticks can also cause “tick paralysis” in pets. Tick paralysis occurs when a female tick attaches near a pet’s spinal cord, causing muscle weakness, loss of coordination and in some cases, death from respiratory failure as chest muscles become paralyzed.
Mosquitoes are a common pest in the summer for animals. They breed in standing, stagnant water. Mosquitoes need only about 1/2 inch (1 cm) of water to breed, so be vigilant about not having standing water. They can actually make your pets very ill as mosquitoes can transmit heartworm larvae to dogs and cats. This is especially true of mosquito bites on dogs, as cats are atypical hosts of these parasites. If heartworm disease can’t be treated in dogs, it can be fatal in severe cases.
How to prevent and protect your pets from bringing in pests
Keep your pet’s environment clean
Keeping your pet’s environment clean is a great way to protect your pet from fleas. Vacuum your home every few days, paying special attention to upholstered furniture, crevices, and baseboards where fleas could be lurking. Keep your lawn cut short and gardens well maintained to prevent breeding grounds for pests. Fleas and ticks often hide out in tall grasses.
Beware of wildlife
Don’t encourage wild animals to enter or linger in your yard. Fleas will hitch rides on animals like feral cats, raccoons or possums, enter your yard, and then lie in wait for prowling or playing cats and dogs.
Inspect your pets and bathe them regularly
After your pets enjoy their day outdoors, thoroughly check them for fleas, ticks, or other insects. Brush their fur and inspect them for any red bumps or bite marks. Make sure you bathe your pets regularly and if necessary use a shampoo that’s meant to eliminate fleas and ticks.
Keep your pet’s belongings clean
Wash your pet’s bedding, crate, toys, food bowls and sleeping areas on a regular basis. In addition to this, it’s important to keep your pet’s food area clean. Leftover pet food attracts bugs, so throw away any uneaten food immediately and store your regular supply in a tightly sealed container.
If you have a horse or an outdoor dog, they will need a constant source of cool, freshwater while they are outside. Change this water a few times a day to prevent the water from becoming stagnant and attracting mosquitoes.
If pests still come into your home, it is important to let a professional take care of the problem. Many commercial bug sprays and pest products can be genuinely hazardous to your pets. Do not use human insect repellent on your dog or cat as it can be extremely toxic to them and can cause serious neurologic problems.
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