(NewsUSA) - While the season's warmer weather offers great opportunity for games of fetch with Fido, it also brings increased risk from exposure to pests, particularly ticks, fleas, mosquitoes and stinging insects. Safeguarding dogs and cats begins with discussions with your veterinarian, but in addition to prescribed healthcare repellents and preventatives, there are several things that can be done to make your yard inhospitable to the stinging, biting troublemakers.
"Ticks are certainly one of the most concerning warm weather pests," noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
Ticks are endemic with various species posing different health threats, such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, babesia and Lyme disease. Tick-borne illnesses generally present with lethargy, weakness, anemia and even organ failure. Henriksen suggests pet owners minimize the risk of ticks in yards by regularly trimming grass and other vegetation. As nuisance wildlife and rodents are common tick carriers, seal trash cans, remove brush piles and keep firewood two feet off of the ground to keep them away.
Mosquitoes also pose health risks to dogs and cats as their bites can transmit heartworm, a parasitic roundworm that can infect a host and result in a potentially serious disease. To help keep these pests at bay, Henriksen advises homeowners to repair any torn screens and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by removing standing water in the yard.
"Empty wading pools, toys, grill covers flower pots, clogged gutters and other places that tend to gather water. Bird baths should be changed every week to keep water fresh," Henriksen says. "Mosquitoes only need half an inch of stagnant water to develop from eggs to pupae to adult mosquitoes that can then live out of water, so a thorough check of the yard is essential."
Though fleas are tiny pests, they cause big problems. Not only can they infest an entire home quickly, flea saliva can cause anemia and dermatitis and transfer tapeworms to dogs and cats. Avoid walking dogs in tall grass where there is a greater chance of flea exposure, wash dogs after walks and puppy play dates, and launder bedding, collars and stuffed toys.
Stinging insects are another potential problem for pets, especially if stung near the mouth or throat as this may cause swelling that can restrict breathing. Inspect the yard for evidence of hives or stinging insect colonies. If you see evidence of an infestation, contact a pest professional who can safely remove nests and control swarms.