Your Pet and the Pests to Look Out For
Though the days of biting mosquitoes and buzzing flies are almost at an end for those of us at the last few weeks of summer vacation, for our pets, the battle against bugs is still very present. Ensuring you treat your pets when you find a pest on them is important, but knowing what to look for and how to prevent these critters is critical. Following is an overview of the top four bugs to watch out for as we say goodbye to summer.
This all too familiar bug is just as annoying to your pet as it is to you. Even though bug sprays designed for humans may seem like a good option for pest control, these sprays can be toxic for our pets - causing skin irritation, vomiting, and even seizures. Luckily there are products like K9 Advantix that are created to block bites of fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes (source). The best way to avoid having to treat mosquito bites on your pet this summer, or even the possible heartworn or West Niles these insects carry, is to take as many precautions as possible. Simple things you can do to help your pet are fixing broken screens or windows, keeping water supplies fresh (as this is where the mosquitoes will be drawn to), and refraining from walking your pet around dawn or dusk (AKA peak mosquito times).
These ectoparasites are found most often in tall grass and wooded areas, though can make their way to your own backyard in some cases. Ticks attach themselves to your furry friend to feed on their blood, which can cause quite a few problems. Aside from red and irritated skin, ticks can cause anemia, paralysis, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain fever (source). All of these illnesses are preventable and treatable. Talk to your veterinarian about what medicines or lawn treatments you can provide to help protect your companion.
Similar to ticks, these ectoparasites can be found on the outside of skin, pores, and hair follicles. Unlike ticks, however, mites cannot be seen by the naked eye. There are four types of mites to look out for, each of which has its own symptoms aside from some degree of red and irritated skin. Burrowing mites (highly contagious), demodex mites, surface mites (highly contagious), and ear mites. Burrowing mites and ear mites can cause such intense itching that the host pet will bite, scratch, chew, etc. excessively. Demodex mites can cause hair loss;, thickened, dry skin; and even scaly skin. Demodex mites are most common in young dogs and older dogs. Ear mites can cause the pet to shake their head obsessively and rub their head, neck, and face along any surface. Surface mites don’t cause much discomfort to the host, but do cause surface irritation and feed off of dead skin cells. Though mites cannot be easily identified by sight, if your pet is scratching or biting excessively, a quick trip to the vet can determine the best treatment for your pup. And as before, prevention is possible with the right medication and grooming habits (source).
These contagious critters are some of the most contagious pests out there. Feeding on pets as well as people, these insects burrow down into the skin, biting and feeding on the blood of the host. Fleas are so small it can often be difficult to notice them jumping around your pet’s body, but the discomfort of your pet will be obvious. If suspicion arises, use a flea comb and a keen eye to check your pet for these jumping bugs - the armpit and groin are hotspots for fleas, so be sure to check these areas if nothing else (source). To treat fleas, spot-treatments and pills can be used, as well as store-bought shampoos made to treat fleas. Though a trip to the vet isn’t always necessary, if after a home treatment your pet is still scratching incessantly, a check up by the vet can be the right decision.