Watching your dog or cat chase after a bug, spider, or other pest can be entertaining. But did you know that many creepy crawlers here in the Coastal Empire are very dangerous to your pet’s health? With summer just around the corner, pet owners everywhere are itching to spend more time outdoors in the warm, sunny weather. Unfortunately for your pets (and for us), this time of year also means more insects will be out and about and may just leave you and your pets itching in another way! Some pests pose a greater threat to cats and dogs than others. Many bugs can carry diseases and parasites, and some pests even have venomous bites that can be instantly life-threatening. It is important to be familiar with the most dangerous insect pests in our region and to take proper steps to prevent your pet from being bitten or stung.
Pro tip: If you do not want to be bitten or stung by it, neither does your pet!
Here are 5 pests that can be very harmful to your pets:
Fleas rank as one of the most common pests that harm pets. They spread from animal to animal with ease by simply jumping from their current host to a new one. Unbeknownst to most, fleas do not have the ability to fly. However, that doesn’t stop them from constantly migrating and breeding while living off of the nourishment provided by the host animals blood. There are a couple of ways that your four-legged friends can encounter fleas:
- Being within a short distance of another animal with fleas
- Encountering them in the environment
Even if your dog is the only domestic animal that ever uses your yard, fleas can enter the environment [your yard] from squirrels, rabbits, deer, and many other wild critters. Fleas prefer cool to warm temperatures – 65-80 degrees – with high humidity, which makes them a perfect candidate to thrive inside your home and live up to 18 months. Savannah and the surrounding area provides the ideal environment for the survival of fleas and once they find a hose, they can lay thousands of eggs at a time!
Because fleas primarily feast on blood – and a lot of it – they pose serious threat to your furry friends. Once attached to your pet, fleas can cause:
- Anemia (thinning of the blood)
- Intense itching
- Scabbing, either due to the flea marks or your pet picking at the itchy spots
- Skin infections, due to allergic reactions
Fleas may be tiny but they are not hard to spot. Search under your pets hair and look for any black specs. You can also buy a flea comb and run it over your pets fur to see if the extremely thin teeth pull out any fleas.
Treatment: Should you find fleas on your furry family member, contact your veterinarian to confirm how severe the flea infestation is and to form a treatment plan. Such plans may include:
- Chemical topical treatments
If your pet has fleas, make sure to also inspect all other pets in the home and treat them accordingly.
Living in the Coastal Empire, we are all too familiar with these nuisance pests. Mosquitoes may be small and somewhat easy to swat, but experts agree that they are the deadliest creatures on Earth. Being the “vampires” of the insect world, mosquitoes spread diseases that kill thousands of people every year. They become more active when temperatures begin to rise, and our climate allows for a longer mosquito season than many other areas. In Georgia, mosquitoes are at their peak in volume and risk from April through October, so it is important to be vigilant with your mosquito protection and control starting in March continuing through November.
Just like with humans, these bloodsucking creatures are bothersome to dogs and cats as well. Like humans, these insects can bite your pet and cause intense itching and irritation. Even more serious is the spread of parasites and bacteria a mosquito bite may cause. In our region of the country, mosquitoes can be even more dangerous because they might carry parasites known as heartworms. Heartworm is hands down the most problematic mosquito-borne disease. These pests are known to carry and transmit this disease from one animal to another, and when your pet get bitten you probably will not know they are affected until much later. What makes heartworm so dangerous – particularly in dogs – is that it can cause cardiovascular and respiratory damage. It can also affect cats, but it is usually not as severe as with dogs.
If your four-legged friend spends a lot of time outside, do your best to eliminate large areas of standing water (including a water bowl), as this is a prime breeding spot for mosquitoes.
One of the most common (and startling!) pests in our area are also a threat to your pets! Cockroaches are attracted to pet food, so although they tend to steer clear of direct interaction with dogs and/or cats, they are more than happy to share a meal with them. This sharing is not limited to food consumption – if cockroaches are sharing food with your pets there is a good chance they are also sharing bacteria and viral diseases with them.
The good news for you is that this potential problem is very easy to avoid! All you need to do is keep your pets food bowl out during meal time only. A bowl filled with food, sitting out at all times, is a magnet for hungry cockroaches.
Ticks are very common in wooded areas, like you and your pup’s favorite hiking trail and many of the dog parks around the Coastal Empire. Like fleas these insects do not fly, but have an impressive leap and can hop off of grass or bushes to attach themselves to your dog. Once they have hitched a ride on your furry friend, ticks will bite and bury their heads in your pet’s skin and become very difficult to remove. If left alone, they will feed on your pet’s blood until fully engorged. This can range anywhere from 3 to 11 days and in some species – up to 3 years! These vicious pests are very dangerous to your pets. They have been known to consume so much of a hosts’ blood that they cause anemia! Female ticks bring even more fear with them, as they can cause a rare paralysis in your animal because of a toxin it produces while feeding.
Deer ticks are most problematic to you and your pet because they carry Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever – all of which can cause severe health problems in humans, cats and dogs. If you find a tick on your pet, it is pertinent to remove it as soon as possible and have them tested by your veterinarian for disease. Use a regular Tick & Flea treatment on your pet to keep these blood suckers at bay, and make sure to inspect your pet’s coat and skin for ticks after every outdoor adventure.
We all know that many species of spiders can be found in and around our homes in the Coastal Empire – what you may not know is that some are much more dangerous to other…both to you, and to your pet! Certain spiders have venomous bites that can quickly result in severe inflammation and pain. Species like the Brown Recluse and/or the Black Widow can even cause neuromuscular damage in your pet with one single bite! This is especially true if you have a small animal, such as a cat or a small-breed dog.
It is very important to be familiar with the dangerous spiders in our area and to discuss them with your veterinarian so you know how to properly identify them and act quickly if needed.
The Importance of Pest Control For Our Pets
It is easy to see the various dangers posed by insect pests to both you and your furry family members – ranging from a painful bite or sting to serious disease. The most effective way to protect them (and you!) from these dangers is to maintain regular pest prevention at home. Both cats and dogs can be protected against insects with professional pest control products, and lucky for you the products we use are verified pet safe. By taking a proactive approach to pest prevention and protection with Yates-Astro, you will help shield your four-legged friends from some of the most dangers insect-related health problems and make being outdoors this spring and summer that much safer.