If dogs could talk, they would not be wagging their tongues or tails excitedly about the coming of summer. Besides the dreadful Texas heat and humidity braved by our furry-coated friends, they must contend with the pests. No, not kids on skateboards with cell phones, but the pesky insects that bite and burrow: fleas, ticks and mosquitos. Unfortunately, these canine-loving critters often carry diseases.
Every dog and its owner know how bad fleabites can itch. But if your canine companion is especially sensitive, more severe reactions can occur. Health threats posed by tick bites include Lyme disease and “dog tick fever” (Canine Anaplasmosis) that can cause not only fever, but also stiff joints, appetite loss and lethargy, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. With mosquito bites, the biggest risk to dogs is heartworm. We’ll skip further fear-inspiring maladies and details. You get the idea here. And just because your dog gets bit doesn’t mean it will contract any of these diseases, but it is a risk. Talk to your veterinarian about what symptoms to look for and when to bring your pet in for an exam.
So, how do you protect your furry family member from bites and their effects? Here are five simple suggestions.
1. Rake, Cut and Drain. This refers to leaves, grass and water. Basically, you don’t want to give the little buggers a chance to breed, hide and grow. Ticks and fleas love fallen foliage, so use a rake or leaf blower to literally “blow their cover.” And make sure you keep grass cut short.
Mosquitos propagate in standing water, which can take a number of forms that you might not recognize at first but that need to be drained or treated:
– Pet water bowls/troughs
– Landscape or natural ponds
– Bird baths
– Large puddles or pools from rain or sprinklers
– Untreated swimming pools
– Drainage trays under plant pots, and
– Uncovered trash cans or buckets that can collect rain or sprinkler water.
2. Bathe, Wash and Vacuum. Give your pooch a regular bath. Ask your vet what kind of shampoo is best (e.g., non-allergenic, natural, best pest prevention). After that, throw doggie’s beds, blankets, rugs, collars and anything else it plays with or touches in the laundry. Finally, regularly vacuum carpets, rugs, floors, furniture, and curtains.
3. Bug-proof the house. Make sure the windows and doors to the outside are closed or have screens that are not torn or have holes in them. Repair and patch any tear, hole or crack no matter how small. If you don’t find the “leaks” into your abode from outside, the bugs will.
4. Stay indoors when possible, especially during and shortly after sunset. Fleas tend to be more active around sunset. Mosquitos can bite at any time of day. Some Texas species, like the Aedis aegypti, are active in daylight and not at night, while others are most active at twilight or in the few hours right after sunset.
5. And of course ask us about proper flee medications for your pets to keep those pesky critters away.