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Pests and Pets

February 7, 2019

Your furry companions are like family. You take care of them, keeping them healthy and safe. And just like the rest of your family, you don't want pests harming your pets.

Today, we're talking about all the pests that can cause harm to your pets and what you can do to keep your pets safe.

Which Pests Are a Threat to Your Pets

There are a number of pests that can harm your pets. If you've had pets for a while, you've probably heard of a few of them, like fleas and ticks. But other pests can also be a threat to your pets, including rodents, bed bugs, mosquitoes, and blowflies.

Let's take a look at each of these pests in more depth.

Fleas

Fleas are one of the most common pests that your pet can encounter. Even though they're most often associated with dogs and cats, fleas can also infest rabbits and even birds!

Fleas are a parasitic pest that live on an animal and feed on its blood. They can't fly, but they are adept jumpers: despite being only 1/16-1/8 of an inch long, they can jump more than a foot! This makes it easy for them to hop up onto your pet. Your pet might get fleas from coming into contact with another animal with fleas or from fleas in the environment.

Fleas are harmful to pets for a number of reasons: their bites cause constant scratching, which can lead to infections; ingesting fleas may pass a tapeworm to your pet; and in severe cases, a flea infestation can lead to anemia.

One of the earliest and most obvious signs of a flea infestation is your pet's constant scratching. Be sure to check your pet for signs of scratching, redness, blood, or dirt-like specks (the fleas themselves).

Ticks

Ticks are an oval-shaped pest with eight legs (as adults). They can be gray, brown, black, reddish-brown, or yellow in color.

Like fleas, ticks are a parasitic pest that feeds off of blood, attaching themselves to their host. Your pet is most likely to get ticks from being outside: ticks live in tall grass and will attach themselves to your pet when it walks through the grass.

Ticks can cause blood loss, anemia, skin irritation, and—most worryingly—Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, and Cytauxzoonosis (a lethal infection).

One of the earliest signs of a tick on your pet is scratching. Check your pet (especially around the face, ears, neck, and legs) for ticks after they come inside.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are an apple-seed shaped pest that has six legs and is reddish-brown in color (although their body swells and gets darker after a meal).

Bed bugs are good hitchhikers and can come in the home via furniture, clothing, shoes, boxes, etc.

Like fleas and ticks, this pest feeds on blood; however, bed bugs prefer humans. That said, they can bite pets if humans are not present. This leads to itching and discomfort for your pets.

Rodents

Rats and mice, unlike the pests discussed above, are more likely to avoid your pets than not. Still, that doesn't mean that they're harmless to your pets.

Rats and mice can carry viruses, bacteria, parasites, and toxins that can affect your pets (and you!). These include toxoplasmosis (a parasite), roundworm (a parasite), Leptospirosis (bacteria), and Hantavirus (virus). Not to mention, rodents can carry fleas (with all their problems) that can then be passed on to your pets.

Pets can be exposed to all of these if they are bitten by a rodent, or if they eat a rodent. They may also be exposed if the rodents eat their food, or if they come across rodent droppings.

Mosquitoes

Cats and dogs are more protected from mosquito bites because of their fur, but they still happen. Just as with humans, mosquitoes can cause your pets itching and even spread disease. These diseases include dog heartworm, feline heartworm, eastern and western equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

Your pets are most likely to be bitten by mosquitoes when they are outdoors; however, they may still get bitten from any stray mosquitoes that find their way indoors.

BotflIES

This pest looks like a cross between a house fly and a bumblebee: it is about the size of a bumblebee and hairy, but is black.

This pest is a parasite that is normally found in rodents and rabbits; however, it can infect cats and dogs. Botfly maggots latch on to an animal, eventually establishing itself underneath the skin. Your pet is most likely to pick up a botfly after spending time outside in the grass, where botflies lay their eggs.

Signs of an infection from botflies (called a Cuterebra infection) include cough, fever, trouble breathing, dizziness, circling, blindness, and seizures. You may also find a lump (called a warble) where the maggot is residing under the skin.

How You Can Keep Your Pets Safe

When it comes to pests and pets, there are a few things you can do to keep your pets safe. In some cases, the steps you take will be species-specific. (For example, you might choose to keep your cat indoors, but that's not possible for dogs.)

Here are a few things we recommend:

For Fleas, Ticks, Mosquitoes & Botflies

Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and botflies are primarily found outdoors—so the most effective way you can limit your pet's exposure is by limiting their time outside during pest season. (Fleas, ticks, and other pests are most active from April through October.)

Of course, this advice is more practical for certain pets than others: cats can be kept indoors, but dogs will need to go outside to relieve themselves. If you have a dog, make sure to check it daily for fleas, ticks, and bites.

Another important way to protect your pets from these pests is by maintaining your yard. This is a step that makes a big difference, because pests often thrive in unkempt yards. For example: ticks like tall grass, and mosquitoes breed in standing water.

To make your yard as inhospitable to pests as possible, we recommend taking the steps below:

  • Mow your lawn regularly so that the grass does not get too tall.
  • Remove sources of standing water (bird baths, lawn divots,etc.) during mosquito season.
  • Consider removing plants that attract wildlife like rodents and deer (sources of fleas and ticks).
  • Clean your yard of any trash, animal waste, and dead plants (which attract pests).

If your yard has a serious flea, tick, or mosquito problem, you might also consider treating your yard.

Finally, we recommend seeing your veterinarian to get a recommended flea/tick prevention treatment and for vaccination. Vaccines are available to protect your pet from West Nile virus (carried by mosquitoes). Also, make sure that the flea/tick treatment is species-specific: cats should not receive treatment formulated for dogs, for example.

For Bed Bugs

The good news is that bed bugs are more interested in you than your pets.

However, it is important to make sure that any steps you take to get rid of the bed bugs are safe for your pets. You'll want to make sure that your pets are removed from the home for a certain period of time, if treatments are used. 

It's also important to make sure that any treatments used are safe for the specific animals that you have. Some pets, like birds and reptiles, are more sensitive to certain treatments.

For Rodents

When you have pets like cats or dogs, you'll need to approach rodent removal with caution. That's because you don't want your furry friends to come into contact with the traps, baits, poison, or other treatments used to remove rodents. It's also important to dispose of any dispatched rodents promptly, as pets can become sick from eating a poisoned rodent.

To safely catch rodents without harming your pets, consider using pet-safe traps (unlike spring-loaded traps, these can't be triggered by your pet's paws or noses).

Pest Problems? Call Us!

Getting rid of pests can be daunting—especially if you have pets. If you have questions about pet-safe pest removal, we'd be happy to help. We're here to help you keep your home pest-free, and your family (including the four-legged members) healthy.

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We've been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Authored By: Eric Scherzinger

Quality ProNational Pest Management AssociationOPMABetter Business Bureau Angies List Super Service Award

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