As a pet owner, you have lots of responsibilities. Let’s face it, it is almost like having a child in your home. This child, however, has the tendency to go out in the backyard, which is not the problem. The problem arises when you think about what else is lurking in that backyard. Even worse, what is hunting for your pet while you are walking it around the park, where you have no control over the surrounding environment.
Those activities might be more common for dogs, but cats should be taken on a walk as well from time to time, and it is a great idea to install a cat flap, so they can enjoy some freedom outside. Pests are constantly on the lookout for our beloved pets because for them they are just a food source, and often our favorite furry friends act as a Trojan horse for the critters to enter our homes with.
In the following rows and lists, we will see what pests could infect our properties, and how we can deal with them. We will also learn how to spot their presence in an early stage of the infestation and how to limit the chances for them to occur in the future.
So which are the pests that love to feed on our pets, but will also get a bite out of us with no second thoughts?
It’s ticks, fleas, and bed bugs.
All three are parasites and could infect us as well. It is not like they prefer to feed on dogs and cats(except fleas), it is just that they are an easier target. The bad thing is that if we neglect the signs that our pets are giving us that they are being bitten, the bloodsuckers will quietly reproduce and spread around the house.
Bed Bugs and Our Pets
Bed bugs prefer humans as a food source. They use our carbon oxide footprint to locate us and that triggers them. We emit carbon oxide while we breathe so there is no stopping to that.
Bed bugs will occasionally feed on animals as well if there is no human nearby. They also use heat as a marker to locate prey, so anything living, breathing and with warm blood is a potential meal.
A bed bug will not use your pet as a means of transport to your home, but will gladly use it to get to you.
Let’s say you are out somewhere enjoying some free time playing with your dog, it wanders off and it is found by a pair of bed bugs which have nothing else to eat around. Of course, they jump on your dog from the tall grass and start looking for a spot to feed on. Now, your dog finds the stick you threw and it rushes back to you. Naturally, you shake your dog’s paw as a salute for the job well done and now you have a couple of bed bugs hiding on your sweater.
They will later spread in your house, bed bugs could lay an egg every single day. Their reproductive rate is quite slow, comparing to other insects, but still.
You are less likely to get bed bugs carried over from your cat because even if you are taking it on a walk, you are probably keeping it near you on a leash or in a cage. If a bed bug gets that close it will go directly on you.
Removing Bed Bugs
There is no easy way to do it. You will most likely need the help of a professional. If you find a bed bug on your pet, don’t rush to check every inch of it. As we have mentioned above, those parasites are here for you!
So right after you kill the insect (don’t use bare hands) head to the sleeping area of your pet and check every stitch and every craving. You will need to run an extensive check of all the beds in the house, where the pet has access to, and the sofas.
Follow this line of actions and don’t panic:
- Check all the beds;
- Check all the couches (and other soft furniture);
- Check the bedding area of your pet;
- Check the transport cage of your pet;
- Wash all fabrics in hot water (around 60 °C);
You are looking for little brown spots on the fabric, which would be bed bug faeces. Empty shells will be a sure sign of bed bugs and of course actual parasites. If you are not sure and want professional help get a quote for bed bug treatment.
Ticks and Pets
Ticks, on the other hand, are not picky at all. They will gladly munch on you and your pets as well. Those nasty parasites don’t just feed for a couple of minutes and go on their way, once a tick sticks to its prey it holds on there until it literally swells with blood.
Your local authorities are probably treating the parks with pesticides against ticks and fleas, and yet they often find their way through.
Bites from ticks need to be taken very seriously. If you find a one on yourself to go to your doctor’s cabinet as soon as possible. The tick needs to be removed and you will probably receive a tetanus shot.
Our pets don’t get regular vaccines against tetanus, because they are not so vulnerable as we are. Humans, horses and livestock could get paralysed from this disease. Dogs and cats get only the limbs where the intoxication is paralysed. You will definitely notice something strange in their movements and behaviour. Pets are treated with antibiotics in case they are infected. The antibiotics are combined with several other medications in order to ease the process, the treatment could take up to a month. This will, no doubt, result in a substantial bill to the vet.
Removing Ticks From Our Pets
By no means try to remove a tick out of your pet, or yourself, on your own! You can’t stop ticks from spreading outside of your property but you can keep your own lawn in good condition in order to limit the chance of ticks living in it.
Regularly spray your lawn with pesticides to keep it pest free and keep the grass short. Many critters and pests, not just insects, prefer a habitat with richer vegetation and high grass.
All you need to do to keep ticks away:
- Keep your lawn in good condition;
- Spray repellents on your pet if you are letting it run in the park;
- Always check your pet after walking going to the park;
- Regularly apply anti-tick and flea drops on the back of its neck;
Fleas And Pets
Fleas are the most common pest in properties with pets. It is not something that talks about the hygienic habits you have established with your pets, nor with your domestic cleaning schedule.
The thing is that fleas prefer animal hosts. They love to hide in the fur of our pets and are actually biologically engineered to live in deep coats. It is also where they lay their eggs. A female lays around 50 eggs per day.
Those 50 eggs will soon drop into carpets and beddings, right before they hatch. We can’t do anything about it other than the mandatory pet flea treatments. Skipping a treatment makes your pet and your home vulnerable to infestation.
You can notice the pest while brushing your pet’s fur, especially behind ears, around the neck and other sensitive areas. If you see your pet to scratch energetically and bite its fur, it is a sure sign that there are fleas on board.
Removing Fleas From Your Property
This could be a bit tricky, especially if the infestation is not caught on time. Treating with pesticides kills the adults but the bigger part of the population of fleas is actually in an egg state, which means that they will soon hatch and start to cause troubles. Pesticides that are being sprayed could not affect the eggs, only a pest heat treatment can and those could be expensive.
If you don’t want to go for a heat treatment, you will need a couple of spray treatments that will be weeks apart from one another. That will give time for the eggs to hatch and be treated on the following visit. Luckily those newly hatched pests, will not have enough time to lay their own eggs.
Vacuum carpets and areas most visited by your pets very often and with a powerful vacuum cleaner that can such the eggs right out of the fabrics. There are some creatures that make their home on your floor. If you have a vacuum cleaner that can also wash fabrics with hot water, even better, although those are used more often for commercial use, and you probably never thought of buying one, because they are a bit expensive on top it all.
All you need to do to keep fleas away:
- Don’t skip a flea treatment for your pet;
- Make sure that the anti-pest collar is effective against fleas and ticks;
- Vacuum your property often, especially around the bedding of your pet, and if it had fleas recently;
- Baths are mandatory after going into deep grass or had contact with an animal that is living on the streets;
- Stay away from homeless animals yourself, otherwise, you could carry fleas to your pet;
- If you had a contact with such animal, brush off your clothes with a hard brush (you can spray some flea repellent on it);
- Upon returning home throw your clothes into the washer (a program with higher degrees would be more effective);
You can’t protect your home and beloved pet on 100% of all pests. There will always be some chance for infestation and there will be cases in which you have to deal with those pests. However, by following the treatment calendar from your vet and the simple rules listed above you can minimise the threat. Of course, there are a number of other vermin that could live in/on the pets like the tape worm for instance, but those mentioned in the post are the most common, and the rest will be a topic for another time.