Bugs and Pets
Our pets bring us love, happiness, and lots of smiles. They can also bring us fleas, ticks, and even bed bugs. These nasty insects not only pose health risks to humans, but they can also threaten the well-being of our furry friends.
Fleas are the most common pet parasites, and these malignant mini-monsters love to drink blood. Fleas prefer the blood of four-legged mammals but are not beyond plaguing humans with incessant itching and pinpricks of pain. Chances are if you have come down with a serious case of flea-bitus, the bloodsuckers were transferred to you by your cat or dog.
Newly hatched fleas need to feed within days but adults can go months without a meal. The pupae can also lay in wait in their cocoons for up to a year until they feel body heat and vibrating movements emanating from potential victims. When fleas bite, they create two or three tightly spaced punctures. Their saliva contains a nasty substance that can cause more than painful itching. Flea bites can transmit diseases, harmful bacteria, and parasites such as tapeworms. Fleas were responsible for the bubonic plague that wiped out millions of people in the Middle Ages. If you see your dog or cat scratching incessantly, you might need to evict the vampire vermin as soon as possible.
If you think fleas are bad, you have never pulled a blood-engorged tick off yourself or your pet. These creepy diseased creatures are commonly found in fields sitting on the tips of tall grass waiting to jump onto passing people or animals. And you don’t have to live in the wilderness to provide a ride for a tick. They also live in suburbia and even urban areas such as New York City. Ticks attach to you and your pets by inserting their mouthparts into the skin. The bug’s saliva prevents the wound from clotting and the bodies of the critters balloon with blood as they drink away. If they are simply yanked from the skin, they can leave body parts behind which can cause infections.
Besides being disgusting, ticks spread horrendous maladies like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Both of these cause arthritis, swelling of joints, and lameness in dogs and humans. Cats are highly resistant to the bacteria causing Lyme diseas, but ticks can make them sick with barely pronounceable deadly disease like anaplasmosis, tularemia, and cytauxzoonosis.
Adult ticks can live up to three years without a blood meal. The best way to prevent tick problems is to use tick control products in your yard, home, and on your pet. Put these tiny Draculas on the run and spare your pets and yourself a lot of grief.