Keep pets pest-free in summer
By Robin Scott
Mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are annoying pests that not only bother people, but their pets as well. During the summer months the pesky pests flourish, and keeping animals safe from infestation is an important part of summer animal care.
Dr. Janice Coston, D.V.M., noted that some tips for keeping dogs and cats safe from pests and heat exposure during the summer months include “Having a shady area or access to the garage or dog door for the pet to go in and out of the house.” The ability to get out of the direct sunlight and hottest part of the day is key. Another important factor according to Dr. Coston is water. She stated, “Pets need plenty of fresh water and they need free access to fresh water all of the time. Pets that remain indoors also need a lot of water.” She stated that many pet owners find that swimming pools, wading pools or misting hoses for outdoor dogs are helpful. She warned, “A pool will need its water changed regularly to avoid breeding mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can spread heart worm disease as well as West Nile virus, so make sure the swimming pool is not a reservoir for viruses.”
“The easiest way to protect against flea and tick infestations,” according to Dr. Coston, “is to use a product like Frontline. It soaks into the skin and goes systemic, so that when the tick attaches, it dies. Infestations in yards need to be treated. They may be hooked up to the garden hose and sprayed. Owners must spray in areas where ticks hide, like in leaves, under the house, under bushes and places that are moist and shady. Those are exactly the places where the dog wants to go too. Don’t just spray the yard. A professional pest service can spray as well.” Whether its fleas, ticks, mosquitoes or heat, Dr. Coston stated, “Frequent monitoring of pets makes sure there isn’t a problem. Go out and love on your dog.” Paying a lot of attention to pets will aid in the battle against summer pests and heat.
The saliva of fleas can cause anemia, dermatitis and transfer tapeworms. Ticks can also be extremely hazardous to pet health. The female tick can attach near a pet’s spinal cord, causing “tick paralysis” causing 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.
Pets need to be checked frequently, especially during the hot months of summer, for fleas, flea dirt and ticks. Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors are especially at risk for infestations. Signs of an infestation include excessive scratching, licking or grooming behavior. Keeping pets away from areas where the pests congregate, such as tall grass, is also a good idea. Yards where pets are allowed to remain should be kept trimmed to avoid a breeding ground for pests. Some pests such as mosquitoes tend to be more active at dusk and dawn, so pets are better off indoors during those hours.
Caring for a pet includes treating their environment, washing their bedding and toys and sweeping and vacuuming frequently. Preventative treatments also help pets remain pest free. For more information on animal health, visit www.cdc.org and www.aldf.com.