Summer is a popular time for both people and pets to be active outdoors. As fun as it may be to play with your pet outside, summertime activities can create a whole new set of problems for pet owners — namely bugs on dogs, because bugs on your dog may lead to bugs inside your home. Which pests are most likely to hitch a ride with your pet back into the house?
Summer is a popular time for both people and pets to be active outdoors. However, warm weather — particularly in areas known for rainy springs or high humidity — creates the ideal conditions for many of the bugs that are attracted to dogs or cats. And that can result in pest infestations in or around your home.
Learn which bugs are most attracted to your pets and what you can do to keep the scratching to a minimum.
Do Pets Attract Bugs?
Bugs such as mosquitoes, fleas and ticks are opportunistic feeders who are always in search of a host — like your dog, cat or you — to provide the nourishment they need. Even if your pet doesn't spend a lot of time outdoors, it's possible they'll pick up these pests and bring them into the house. In fact, even indoor pets can be affected by these bugs, as you can ferry them in on your socks or pants legs.
Most Common Pets Affected by Bugs and Pests
Almost any pet can be affected by bugs, they particularly affect dogs and cats, which tend to be the pets most people own. Both dogs and cats may attract fleas, ticks and mosquitoes when in your yard or on a walk, whether they're outside for a long time or just a few minutes.
What type of bugs can hurt your dog and other pets?
Annoying scratching and biting isn't the only problem that's a result of pests on dogs and cats. While the itching does make pets uncomfortable, the excess scratching from bites can also lead to infections. Here are some bugs that can be more than a nuisance:
- Fleas are probably the most well-known pests that affect your pets. They may feed on your dog or cat, causing skin irritation and possible infections when their bites lead to heavy scratching. And, of course, it's possible your pet could bring fleas inside, which could result in an infestation. In fact, one female flea can lay about 18 eggs a day, and just 20 fleas on a dog can produce 360 eggs per day and more than 2,000 eggs in a week. Additionally, fleas are the intermediate hosts for tapeworm larvae. If your pet ingests a flea while grooming, it's possible they could also end up with a tapeworm.
- Ticks are commonly found in long grass and heavily wooded areas. Ticks attach themselves to your pets (or you) to secure a blood meal and then drop off of their unsuspecting host to lay their eggs. While most tick bites are generally painless, they can sometimes have dangerous consequences. For example, some species of ticks carry pathogens that can cause diseases in humans and pets alike, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever or Lyme disease.
- Mosquitoes bite both pets and humans, and are known for the itchy, red welts they leave in their wake. These bites can get infected by vigorous scratching. Like ticks, mosquitoes can carry pathogens that cause disease in humans (with the West Nile virus being one of the most well known). They can also carry pathogens that result in heartworms in your pets, particularly in dogs.
Related > Pet-Friendly Pest Control
How to Help Keep Pests Outside
Keeping unwanted pests out of the house can be a challenge, especially if your dog or cat goes outside frequently. Find ways to help keep them at bay.
- Keep the house clean: Vacuum your home often, including furniture and any items on which pets typically lounge to help get rid of both pests and their eggs. (Make sure you empty your vacuum bag in an outdoor trash can.) Steam cleaning may also help remove bugs and their eggs from carpets, upholstery and drapes.
- Maintain your yard regularly: Overgrown grass can attract ticks, so routine mowing and yard maintenance can help remove some of the bugs' favorite hiding spots. In addition, take care to minimize standing water in your yard — think birdbaths, pet water bowls, upended flowerpots and the gutters in along your home — as these are mosquito breeding grounds.
- Inspect your pets when you come inside: Before entering the house, give your pets a once over to inspect their fur for unwanted hitchhikers, like fleas and ticks. And, remember, you can carry these pests inside, too, so make sure you also know how to check yourself for ticks.
How to Help Keep Your Pet Pest-Free
While the occasional flea, tick or mosquito is inevitable when you own cats and dogs, there are some things you can do to help minimize your pets' encounters with and discomfort from these pests.
- Monitor cats and dogs for skin irritation and insect bites and pay attention if they seem to be scratching more than usual.
- Keep pets clean with bathing and brushing. And keep their bedding an toys clean with regular washing, too.
- Keep pets indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are known to be most active.
- Talk to your veterinarian about shampoos or products that can help control or prevent fleas and ticks on your pets. (Though some products and shampoos are sold over the counter, you should always consult your vet before using them.) You should also talk to your vet immediately if you notice any changes in your pet's behavior, like lethargy, extra scratching or changes in appetite.
Contact Terminix® if you suspect your home or yard is infested with pests
If you have signs of a pest infestation in your yard, Terminix can help with mosquito control and treatment or tick control. Our trained professionals can inspect your yard and work with you to create a customized treatment plan to help get rid of pests as quickly as possible.