According to the CDC, illnesses from fleas, ticks, and mosquitos are on the rise. Between 2004 and 2016, the number of people infected by diseases from these pests has tripled. The CDC has also discovered nine new germs spread by ticks and mosquitos.
The primary explanation for the rise in disease is related to increasing temperatures which has increased the number of mosquitoes. As temperatures rise, longer warm seasons have allowed mosquitoes to develop faster. With earlier springs and milder winters, mosquito seasons are also lasting longer, producing more mosquitoes, and increasing the time during which people are at risk.
People aren’t the only ones at risk; increasing temperatures also put cats and dogs at risk of disease from mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes. While it used to be contained to certain regions and specific temperatures, mosquitoes are now able to spread the disease across the United States and for longer periods of time.
Ticks and fleas are both getting smaller, reproducing faster, and eating more often. Ticks are responsible for spreading Lyme disease to humans and dogs. While most active during the warm months, ticks can now be a problem year-round in many areas.
Despite these very real and growing risks, there are several ways you can protect your pets from fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.
Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Protection for Pets
Every dog and cat should be on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. Despite popular misconception, this protection should be continued year-round, not just during the generally accepted risky months of spring and summer. Heartworm protection comes in the form of a once-a-month capsule or chewable. Before your dog can begin heartworm prevention, they must be tested to make sure they do not currently have heartworm disease.
Flea and tick prevention comes in many forms. Most pet owners prefer topical solutions and chews that offer long-term protection. If your dog has an existing infestation, some products can kill eggs, larvae, and adults while preventing future infestations.
Dogs should also be checked for ticks every day, especially during the spring, summer, and fall. To check for ticks, brush your fingers through your dog’s fur, applying enough pressure to feel tiny bumps. Ticks sit on tall grass and plants, waiting for dogs to walk by so they can attach. This means ticks can end up almost anywhere on your pet. Be sure to check everywhere on your dog, including:
- In and behind the ears
- Between the toes
- Under the tail
- Around the genitals
- Around the eyelids
- Under the collar
If you find a tick, use fine-point tweezers to remove it. Grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently pull straight upward in a slow motion to prevent ripping the tick and spreading infection.