Our pets are an important part of our family. We shelter them, feed them, bathe them, and play with them. For many people, they’re as much part of the family as a sibling or a parent. But unlike our human loved ones, our pets can’t really communicate what it is that bothers them. If they could, I’m sure there would be a lot! Pet food lacking in flavor and you refusing to wake up when they want you to seem pretty given, but what about other concerns that may be more dangerous? Like pests that feed on your pets and make them itchy, irritable, and even ill? Let’s look at some of the common pests that may be plaguing our pets.
Fleas are definitely one of the most common pests that hound our furry friends. While fleas can feast on almost all domesticated mammals on the planet, cat and dog fleas love our cats and dogs the most. And by love, I mean love to feast on them. These cat and dog fleas aren’t specific to cats and dogs only though – if you have other pets like rabbits and hamsters, they’re okay with having them on the menu too.
Unlike ticks, fleas easily jump from one host to the next like transient travelers. Your pet can get them just by being near another animal that has fleas, or even stumble unto a flea that’s been lying in wait (they can survive for a few days without a host). They can cause itching, scratching, scabbing, anemia, restlessness, and skin infections.
If you discover fleas on your pets, take action right away. Your veterinarian may prescribe pills as a treatment for your pets, or you can give them a bath using medicated shampoo that kills these pesky parasites. There are also topical treatments available that come in the form of sprays, powders, and even ointment, though these target specific areas so you may be better off with the first two options for a general flea problem.
Ticks are quite similar to fleas and also feed on host blood, but they’re more dangerous in that they carry a lot more bacteria and diseases. Unlike fleas though, they tend to stay on one host for the duration of their lives unless that host expires before they do. They don’t fly or jump, but will lie in wait for another host. This is called “questing”, and ticks will hold on to leaves and grass with arms outstretched to catch the next ride that’s unfortunate enough to graze where they lie.
Some diseases transmitted by ticks are Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), tick paralysis, canine hepatozoonosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and ehrlichiosis to name a few.
If you find any ticks, you should get rid of them right away. Put on gloves and use tweezers to pry them off as close to the tick’s head as possible, pulling straight out slowly and firmly. Do not jerk or twist, you want the tick to stay in one piece. After you’ve pried it off, clean the bite area with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
It’s suggested that you kill the tick by drowning it with rubbing alcohol or soapy water, flushing it down the toilet, or by wrapping it tightly in tape or similar material and then throwing it out. If you’d like to have the tick tested to see what diseases it may have been carrying, keep it alive and place it in a sealed container with a blade of grass and take it for testing. Check with local government agencies, or ask your doctor where you can send it for testing.