Taking Care of Pests on Your Cat and Dog

Pests not only infest your home, but they can also infest your pets. When it comes to getting rid of fleas and ticks, one major problem crops up time after time – balancing the risk that the insect brings to your pet against the risk caused by the treatment. Before treating your dog or cat for pests, it’s important to consider how the treatment is administered, its effectiveness and any possible side effects that may occur. It’s always a good idea to ask your veterinarian, but there are ways to get rid of the pests yourself.

How Do You Know that Pests Are Infesting Your Pet?

The first sign that your pet is infested with fleas or ticks is often behavior. If you notice your pet acting differently or scratching more than usual, then they may have fleas or ticks. Fleas and ticks irritate the skin of animals. Fleas also cause hair loss, and they leave behind visible droppings.

Fleas and ticks are both visible to the naked eye, so if you suspect a bug infestation, then inspect your pet’s fur. Adult ticks attach themselves to your animal’s skin. The insect will look like a blood blister or a small, soft wart. Heavy pest infestations can cause your pet to develop anemia. If this happens, then your pet may seem especially tired.

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What Are the Risks?

Ticks transmit diseases like Canine Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis to your dog, but the pest is infamous for spreading Lyme Disease. If your dog contracts Lyme Disease, then they may exhibit symptoms like:

  • A fever
  • Polyarthritis
  • Shifting leg lameness
  • General decline in health

In rare cases, dogs may suffer from a condition that causes progressive kidney failure. The black-legged deer tick transmits this particular ailment, and it is one that may be fatal.

Most felines do not show signs of Lyme Disease when they contract it. If they do, then they may display symptoms like:

  • Recurring limb lameness due to joint inflammation
  • Acute limb lameness
  • Problems with their kidneys
  • A stiff walk that includes an arched back
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lack of appetite

Ticks also transmit diseases like cytauxzoonosis, tularemia and babesiosis to cats. The symptoms of these diseases range from a high fever and swollen lymph nodes to a lack of energy and weight loss.

If your pet has fleas, then they could also come down with the plague. This is the same disease that devastated Europe’s population during the Middle Ages. Today, if your cat or dog becomes infected with the disease, they may develop a fever or swollen lymph nodes. In this case, contact your veterinarian right away. Also, keep your pet away from other animals to prevent the disease from spreading.

Fleas can also transmit Cat Scratch Disease to felines as well as tapeworms to your dog, which causes irritation, vomiting and weight loss. Flea Allergy Dermatitis is another disease that your pet could get from fleas. This ailment causes hot spots and itchiness, making your pet miserable.

If My Pet is Infested with Pests, Is My Family at Risk?

If a beloved pet becomes infested with ticks, your family may be at risk of getting Lyme Disease. Joint pain, a rash and a fever are the earliest symptoms you’ll notice. You may also experience fatigue, headaches and changes to your vision.

Ticks can transmit Colorado Tick Fever to humans as well. If you contract this ailment, then you may suffer from chills, fever and a headache. In most people, these symptoms develop three to six days from when the tick bite occurred.

Since fleas can give your feline friend Cat Scratch Disease, you and other members of your family are at risk of getting it. Fleas transmit Cat Scratch Disease from one cat to another, and almost 40 percent of all cats develop it at some point. If a person contracts it, then they may suffer from a fever, headache and fatigue.

What Are the Best Prevention Methods?

When it comes to preventing fleas and ticks from finding a home on your pet, you can choose natural, do-it-yourself methods or store-bought ones. To go the natural route, consider making your dog or cat a flea collar. This involves combining three to five drops of cedar or lavender oil with 1 to 3 tablespoons of water in an eyedropper. You will also need a cloth or nylon dog collar or a bandana. Apply 5-10 drops of the mixture to the collar or bandana. Then, tie it around your dog’s or cat’s neck. Reapply the oil to the collar about once a week. Along with this, drip 1-2 drops of the essential oil you’ve picked at the base of your dog’s or cat’s tail. Dilute the essential oil with one tablespoon of olive oil before applying it to your pet.

To repel ticks, consider covering your dog up when they spend time in wooded or grassy areas. Modify an old t-shirt for your dog, or make leg covers from old socks. This method isn’t infallible, but it could keep most of the pests off your furry buddy since a tick will be unable to latch onto their hair. Be sure to inspect your pet when they come inside for the night. Removing a tick quickly can prevent your pet from transmitting a disease because transmission is more likely to happen the longer a tick is in contact with your pet’s skin.

Ways to Treat Pests on Cats and Dogs

Treating fleas is as easy as bathing your pet. Once your pet is slathered in soap, the bugs are unable to hold onto your pet’s hair shaft, causing them to slide off your pet and into the bathwater. You can also use white vinegar in your pet’s bath. Fleas are repelled by the scent and will voluntarily leave their host.

Special pet shampoo gets rid of the pests as well. Eco-friendly options exist, ones that are safe for your furry friend and won’t dry out their skin. Oral medications can also be used to eliminate fleas. This treatment option kills the insects within 30 minutes of your pet ingesting the pill.

To get rid of ticks, you’ll need to use small-tipped tweezers. Set the tweezers near your pet’s skin and grasp the tick’s head firmly. Don’t twist the bug. Instead, pull it out straight. Avoid squeezing or crushing the tick’s body. If you do, you’ll send harmful bacteria into your animal’s bloodstream. Once the tick is out, put it in a jar of rubbing alcohol or insecticide. Ticks carry a number of diseases, so whenever you’re handling one, do so with rubber gloves to protect your hands. After you remove the insect, clean the tick bite area with an antiseptic. Also, watch your pet for signs of infection once the tick is removed.

Protecting Every Member of Your Family

A little effort on your part can help you protect the furry and non-furry members of your family. Whether you select natural methods or commercially developed products, you can prevent and get rid of fleas and ticks. By being consistent with your prevention and elimination methods, your dog or cat will be happier and healthier, which is sure to make you and your family happier and healthier as well.