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Look what the cat dragged in: protecting your pets from pests

Published On: Nov 17 2011 02:57:04 PM CST
Updated On: Sep 20 2012 10:47:37 AM CDT
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(NewsUSA) - If you have ever dealt with a flea infestation, you know how important it is to protect your pets from these pesky critters. If you haven't faced fleas and ticks, consider this a helpful warning.

"Pet owners should take special care to protect their pets from ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes this season," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). "These pests are not just an annoyance, but could pose serious health threats to your pet and your family."

Indeed, these small bugs are no small concern. Fleas, for example, are known for biting, leaving behind itchy, red bumps that cause Fido to scratch excessively. Flea saliva can also cause conditions such as anemia and flea allergy dermatitis and can transfer tapeworms.

"Fleas are known for their quick breeding capabilities, and a tiny few on your pet can quickly turn into hundreds in your home if left unchecked," says Henriksen.

Ticks can be equally as hazardous to family pets. Female ticks can attach near a pet's spinal cord, causing "tick paralysis." The condition causes muscle weakness, loss of coordination and, in some cases, death from respiratory failure as chest muscles become paralyzed. And as dogs are more likely than humans to pick up ticks while outdoors, they are more likely to contract Lyme disease.

Mosquitoes also pose a threat to dogs as several species can be vectors of heartworm parasites, which are deposited as the mosquito feeds on the animal. Each year, thousands of dogs become disabled or die from problems caused by heartworm disease.

The NPMA recommends these tips to help reduce your pet's exposure to fleas and ticks:

* Check pets frequently for ticks, fleas and flea dirt. Be aware of excessive scratching, licking and nibbling behavior in pets.

* Avoid walking the dogs in tall grass, where there is a greater chance of fleas hitching a ride.

* Avoid tick habitats such as low-growing brushy vegetation along the edge of the woods or a trail. Check pets after a walk near or in such areas.

* Bathe pets after walks or playtime with other animals.

* Frequently wash pet bedding, collars and plush toys.

* Wash bed linens and vacuum carpets, floors and furniture frequently. Empty vacuum bags in an outside receptacle.

If you suspect a pest problem, contact a licensed pest professional immediately.

For more information, you can visit www.pestworld.org.

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