PHOENIX – According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illnesses from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes have tripled in the United States over the past 13 years.
Veterinarians at PetSmart are providing tips to pet parents on how to help keep pests off pets.
“With insect-borne illnesses on the rise, it’s important to protect our pets,” said Nick Saint-Erne, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “Parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are problematic for dogs and cats as they spread diseases between animals, including heartworm. The best way to keep pets safe is to prevent infestation and mosquito bites from occurring in the first place.”
• Take preventative steps. Flea, tick and mosquito control is an important part of keeping pets healthy and happy. Year-round treatment is ideal, and there are a variety of products that offer protection. Select a product that treats all infestation issues and prevents them from reoccurring. If your pet spends time outdoors or goes swimming, be sure to use a waterproof application. Mosquitoes are most active at dawn or dusk, so if you can avoid walking your dog during these hours, you can reduce the likelihood they will be bitten. While a preventative treatment is an optimal way to keep pests at bay, it can also kill any fleas that may have found their way onto your pet and repel new ones.
• Use pet-formulated insect repellents. Never use human insect repellent on your pets. DEET, the active ingredient in many common bug sprays, can cause seizures, vomiting and irritation in dogs and cats. Likewise, if you are treating a cat for flea or tick prevention, ensure the repellent is specifically formulated for felines.
• Look for clues that fleas or ticks have found their way onto your pet. “Flea dirt,” small, curly black droppings, can be found in the fur even when the fleas are not seen. To confirm if debris in a dog’s fur is flea droppings, Saint-Erne recommends placing it on a white paper towel and adding a drop of water to it. If it turns red, your pet may have fleas. Ticks attach to the skin for feeding, but can be found crawling on the fur when they first settle onto pets. Conduct a quick spot check on pets following walks or time spent outdoors.
• Remove stagnant water around your home. Mosquitoes need water to live and prefer to lay their eggs in stagnant water. Eliminate their breeding grounds by ensuring the area surrounding your home is free from standing water under bushes and behind structures like tool sheds and air conditioners, or in old tires or flower pots.
Treat the issue promptly. If you find fleas or ticks on your pet, there are several ways to get rid of an infestation:
• Bathe your dog using a specially formulated flea and tick shampoo that is designed to kill parasites. The shampoo begins to work after your dog is out of the bath.
• Take your pet to the groomer and let them administer the treatment for you.
• Clean the house. Thoroughly vacuum your home and launder your dog’s bedding, blankets and soft toys in hot water. A carpet powder or fogger can also effectively treat the home.
• Use an on-premise insecticide, listed as safe for use around pets, for the house and the yard to prevent reinfestation.
Visit PetSmart’s Learning Center (www.petsmart.com/learning-center/) or speak with a PetSmart associate for more resources.
Nearby stores are in Blakeney (9911 Rea Road), Cotswold (206 S. Sharon Amity Road), Matthews (9905 E. Independence Blvd.), Monroe (2875 W. U.S. 74), Pineville (9515 South Blvd.) and Wesley Chapel (6420 Weddington-Monroe Road).