Dangerous Bugs for Pets and How to Keep Them Safe

Author: Mosquito Squad of Greater Washington DC

As the weather warms up, your cats and dogs will no doubt be regularly venturing outside to explore and while doing so unfortunately may encounter some bugs poisonous to pets along the way. Their furry coats can assist in protecting them from unfriendly bites, but with the increase in flies, ants, mosquitoes and bees during the summer season they are likely to be bitten if not careful. Biting insects will not only cause irritation, they can also transmit deadly diseases such as heartworm as well as allergic reactions.

In this article, we will point out to you some of dangerous bugs for pets and how you can keep them safe this summer.

Ticks

Ticks are a very common parasite and are on the top of the list of bugs poisonous to pets. They are small, brown and have flat oval bodies and can be found anywhere from rural properties to city parks. They generally like to bury in the region of your pets head, especially around the ears and neck.

Ticks can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, ehrlichosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Ticks are very difficult to dislodge, but left untreated, the pet can suffer from paralysis with a possible outcome of death. Risks posed to your pet by ticks can be minimized with preventive measures including topical medications, tick collars and annual check ups with a vet. Bathing your animal regularly is an inexpensive way to protect your pet throughout the peak tick season. Ensure you use a shampoo containing medicated ingredients, which will generally kill ticks on contact.

Fleas

Fleas are one of the most common dangerous bugs for your pet to be exposed to. These tiny bloodsucking parasites live on animals and their bites can lead to major health issues including allergic dermatitis, tapeworm infections and anemia particularly in small puppies or weak sick animals.

For every flea you see on your pet, there are most likely at least 50 you can’t see. The most efficient way to check if your animal is infested with fleas is by using a fine tooth comb and running it all over the body concentrating particularly to area near the lower back and tail as this is the typical flea zone.

The best way to keep your pets safe is by using preventive measures. There are many products on the market including flea shampoos, dips, sprays, oral tablets or topical application. Your vet should advise you of a continuous flea treatment program that will prevent the fleas from reproducing as well as discourage them from biting in the future.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are blood-sucking parasites that transmit disease not only to pets, but also humans. They are the dangerous bugs responsible for the spread of heartworm in dogs and cats, which can be deadly. Although rare, mosquitoes can also infect your pet with West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalities and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. While the animal’s fur does offer some protection, they are still vulnerable in areas such as the nose and ears, where the skin is exposed.

When the animal is bitten and infected by the mosquito, the heartworm can grow into a parasite up to a foot long. It migrates towards the heart, blocking the heart valves and arteries, leading to injury of the lungs. If left untreated, your pet can die within a few months of being bitten.

Luckily, heartworm is preventable and there are plenty of products on the market. There is a once a year heartworm injection, administered by your vet or at home preventive treatments including monthly chewable tablets or spot on products. These treatments often incorporate other forms of parasite protection including fleas and worms, which is a bonus.

Bees

If you have lots of flowers blooming in your garden, the chances are you will have a swarm of bees around them. Although bees are not the most dangerous bugs for pets then can cause serious complications if your cat or dog has an allergic reaction.

A common site for bees to sting your pet is in the face region or down the throat if it has been swallowed. If they suffer an allergic reaction, a lump will form at the site and hives may appear all over the body. It is particularly dangerous if the bite occurs near the throat as your pet’s airways may be compromised and breathing restricted. If you pet has a collar on, this can also pose a risk of strangulation in the event the neck expands.

Unfortunately, the best way to keep your animal from incurring a bee or wasp sting is to prevent them from getting stung in the first place. Bees are typically more active during dawn and twilight times, so perhaps exercise your pet during less dangerous periods. If you find you pet is allergic to a bee sting, keep them away from floral areas of your garden and remove those flowers that are the strongest in fragrance.

Get to know your pet and keep them safe

One of the greatest tools you can have to keep your pet safe from dangerous bugs is to get to know your animal. Familiarize yourself with your pet’s normal breathing patterns, heart rate and energy levels, their bodily waste routines and general demeanor. This way, if you pet has encountered one of the above bugs, you can be quick to respond with the best available treatment.