We do hundreds of things each day to protect ourselves and loved ones without even thinking about it. Why should protecting pets from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas be any different? While traditional over-the-counter flea and tick treatments recommended by your vet are great at preventing illness, you can go even further in preventing pests from getting to your pet. Even for humans, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) says, “The most effective way to avoid getting sick from viruses spread by mosquitoes is to prevent mosquito bites.” So what dangers do mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks pose to your pets?
- Dog heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) can be a life-threatening disease for canines and is by far the most common parasite-borne disease affecting dogs and cats. The bite of a mosquito carrying the roundworm larvae can pass along this disease. Once infected, symptoms might not develop for months or years. This is because the parasites live in the heart and blood vessels of dogs and only cause outward symptoms once they have multiplied, blocking the flow of blood to essential organs like the lungs and disrupting heart function.
- Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus: This virus commonly affects Passerine birds, horses, and other equids, but it has been known to infect dogs. The virus, sometimes called “sleeping sickness,” is hard to diagnose and can be fatal. Signs of fever and diarrhea can progress into uncontrolled eye movements, depression, and seizures within 1 to 2 days.
- West Nile Virus: Mosquitoes contract this virus from birds, and in turn, transmit it to other animals, most commonly horses. This viral infection often causes no signs in dogs, but may affect young, old, and immune-compromised dogs. If you live in a West Nile virus endemic area and your cat is allowed outdoor access to hunt, it may become infected if it eats prey infected with the virus.
- Tularemia: This bacterial disease can be found in rabbits and other rodents. The bacteria can be transferred to dogs or cats through the ingestion of an infected animal or through an infected mosquito bite. Painful lymph nodes, high fevers, pain, jaundice, and organ failure are signs of this sometimes fatal disease.
Talk to your veterinarian about mosquito repellant for your pets. Repellents we use aren’t recommended due to the high likelihood of ingestion by the pet.
- Lyme disease: According to the CDC, the annual number of reported cases for Lyme disease has tripled since the late 1990s. This extremely prevalent disease comes from the deer tick. Pets can sometimes take two to five months before showing any sign of infection. Luckily, they usually respond very well to antibiotics to treat this disease, but symptoms may reoccur.
- Ehrlichiosis: Carried by the brown dog tick, this bacterial illness is found worldwide and is one of the most dangerous tick-borne disease organisms known to infect dogs. Again, symptoms may not surface for months after transmission and can vary widely. The sooner the disease is treated, the better the outcome.
- Anaplasmosis: Related to ehrlichiosis, this bacterial illness is also called dog fever or dog tick fever. Symptoms are similar to other tick diseases including fever, loss of appetite, stiff joints and lethargy, but also can include vomiting, diarrhea. Antibiotic treatment works well for this disease as well.
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: Despite its name, this tick-borne disease is found across the United States and Canada. An infected tick must feed on your dog for at least five hours in order to transmit the parasite, so checking your dog every night is a great way to fight this disease. The illness lasts about two weeks, but serious cases could result in death.
Tick-borne diseases are on the rise. In 2017, state and local health departments reported a record number of cases of tick-borne diseases to CDC.
- Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD): Bites from fleas are responsible for flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in dogs and cats, which is estimated to account for over 50 percent of all the dermatological cases reported to veterinarians. This allergic reaction is your pet’s immune response which can cause itchiness, hair loss, and even skin infections.
- Tapeworms: When a pet ingests a flea that is infected with tapeworms, chances are your pet will get tapeworms, too. Tapeworms, while unpleasant, are easily treated.
- Bartonella henselae (cat scratch fever): This bacterial disease normally affects cats, and it is zoonotic, which means it can be passed to humans, in this case through saliva, biting, or scratching. Cats typically become infected by ingesting flea feces when cleaning themselves.
What You Can Do
The simplest and most effective thing you can do is to prevent pests and parasites before they get to your pet. We recommend following the 6 Cs of tick control and the 7 Ts of mosquito control.
7 Ts of Mosquito Control
- Tip anything that could hold standing water
- Toss leaves, firewood, and grass-clippings
- Turn over anything holding water
- Tighten Tarps that can collect water
- Take Care to maintain gutters
- Team Up with neighbors
- Treat your property
6 Cs of Tick Control
- Clear Out tree debris or any moist, shady areas
- Clean any leaf litter
- Choose Plants that don’t attract deer, a tick’s main transportation
- Check Hiding Places like fences, patios, and other spots that go undisturbed
- Care for Family Pets
- Call the Pros
Do you have pets that are too precious not to protect? The Mosquito Squad’s barrier treatment kills up to 90% of mosquitoes and ticks. Let us help you protect them and your family! Get started on your free estimate today!
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