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Buggin' Out

Summer brings with it tons sun, fun, and outdoor activities. Unfortunately, it also is a time where our pets are exposed to a variety of pests, many of them lurking in places unseen. Here are five pests that are especially annoying—and dangerous.

Image: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek / Shutterstock

1. Fleas

It’s nearly impossible to avoid fleas for an entire season, and for good reason. They can be found anywhere in the country (though found in greater numbers in warmer areas with high humidity) and multiply like crazy. In fact, according to the American Animal Hospital Association, just one flea can multiply to 1,000 fleas in your home in just 21 days. Additionally, they can cause itching, scratching, hair loss, and scabs on our pets, as well as anemia, plague and tapeworms, among other things.

2. Ticks

A lovely day out in the woods, communing with nature, breathing fresh air. These are the joys of summer. Unfortunately, ticks like these spots, too, and they don't mind hanging around to wait for warm-blooded travelers like you and your pet to hitch a ride on. Some of the more serious diseases that ticks can transmit to your pet include Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and babesiosis. If you will be spending time in grassy or wooded areas with your pet, be sure to do a tick inspection daily so that the tick can be removed before damage can be done.

3. Mosquitoes

Even your indoor pets are at risk for some of the miseries brought on by mosquitoes, since mosquitoes can still get inside on occasion and can bite through screens on windows, where cats tend to rest. Of course, mosquitoes cause itchy bumps, and that is painful enough, but there are also some serious and life-threatening diseases to wary aware of. Heartworm, a roundworm that can infect both cats and dogs, is a silent killer that can be easily treated if caught in time. Then there is the Saint Louis Encephalitis (SLE), which attacks the brain, and the West Nile Virus (WNV), too.

4. Botfly

Also called the Cuterebra, the botfly hangs out in grass, latching onto warm-blooded animals that are passing through. Symptoms of botfly infection include seizures, aggression, blindness, and warbles (or lumps) in the skin where the botfly has taken up residence. In cats, the cuterebra larva typically travels to the brain.

5. Sarcoptes Scabiei Mite

Most prevalent in the summer months, the condition caused by this mite, also referred to as scabies or mange, is more of a nuisance than a danger. Of course, any condition that results in open wounds is dangerous because it opens the body to bacterial invasion. The most common risk of exposure comes from contact with other animals and outdoor activities. Treatment is the same as treating for fleas, but more aggressive, with quarantining, and thorough baths.

Image: reader of the pack / Flickr

Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining

Hopefully, this has not scared you into another "stay-cation" this summer. We wouldn't want you and your pets to stay cooped up for fear of what is out there. With some vigilance and planning, you will find the end of summer coming much too soon again, and we will be here, to help you prepare for the fun of the fall season.

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