Protecting your pets from seasonal pests

By Brent Honcharenko

Tis the season! No, not that season. It’s pest season. As the snow has finally melted and the weather has warmed here in the upper Midwest, most pet owners are aware – or quickly become aware -of the dangers that ticks and fleas pose to their pets. In fact, in just the last few weeks, you may have already found ticks on your dogs (or yourself!) after time outside. Yuck! Despite how common these pests can be, here’s some additional information that shouldn’t be overlooked as we march towards summer.

Ticks are everywhere dogs like to be. They are found in wooded areas, shrubs, and brush with heavy undergrowth. These environments can be located near trails, walking paths, along the edges of parks and ballfields, or even in your backyard! When a tick has found its host (also known as your pet), it is crucial to remove it quickly and entirely.

The biggest health issue caused by ticks, besides the pain and itching your pet endures and the unpleasant appearance of the intruder, is the threat of Lyme disease or even Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Did you know that fleas thrive in warm, humid temperatures, but they’re not just seasonal pests? Although they become dormant when temperatures fall, they are present year-round! 

Because of this, it’s essential to protect your pet against fleas all year long. Fleas will cause itching and pain for your pet, and in some cases, flea-infested pets can develop tapeworms, which may lead to various health complications in all types of companion animals.

While many take precautionary measures to protect their pets from insect irritants like ticks and fleas, there’s another threatening pest that is often disregarded, but it definitely shouldn’t: mosquitos.

During the warm weather months, people often utilize mosquito sprays and things like outdoor repellent patio candles to protect themselves, but our pets need protection, too! Mosquito bites can affect them, too, by spreading bacterial and parasitic infections like heartworm and West Nile Virus. For some pets, contracting these diseases can lead to severe health issues, including death.

One simple measure you can take to limit mosquitos around your home and property includes removing standing water. You can also avoid letting your pet out at dawn or dusk when mosquitos are most active.

While some mosquito repellents are marketed for pets, finding the best prevention always starts with your veterinarian’s advice. Ask your vet what the best preventative options are for you and your pet’s unique situation.