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PetSmart veterinarian shares tips to keep pets safe from insect-borne diseases

PetSmart Charities volunteer holding adoptable cat

Phoenix, Arizona (PRNewswire) — Springtime means warmer weather but also a rise in fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illnesses from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes have tripled in the United States over the past 13 years, spreading diseases like Lyme.

Parasites are problematic for dogs and cats because they spread diseases between animals, including heartworm. The best way to keep pets safe is to prevent infestation and insect bites from occurring in the first place.

Veterinarians at PetSmart urge pet parents to take precautions against insect-borne diseases with flea drops, spot-ons and other topical flea and tick treatments. And pet parents can purchase any flea and tick treatment from PetSmart online or in store and then visit the PetSmart Grooming Salon to have the pet stylists apply it to dogs for free.*

“We already offer a flea and tick treatment in our grooming salons and with the rise of fleas and ticks, we wanted to expand this service to pet parents who purchase prevention products from us as well,” said Debbie Beisswanger, vice president, services. “Some pet parents are unsure about how to apply the treatment. That’s why our associates are trained to administer these treatments and are happy to take care of that for them.”

To take advantage of the “You Buy, We Apply” offer, pet parents need to bring their dog into the grooming salon along with the flea and tick treatment in its original packaging and the receipt. An appointment is not necessary, but pets need to be current on their rabies vaccination to have the treatment applied.*

In addition, Jennifer Freeman, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert, offers the following tips to help keep pests off pets and keep them safe from harmful flea-borne and tick-borne illnesses.

Take preventative steps. Flea, tick and mosquito control is an important part of keeping pets healthy and happy. Year-round treatment is ideal and there are a variety of products that offer protection. Select a product that treats all infestation issues and prevents them from reoccurring.

If your pet spends time outdoors or goes swimming, be sure to use a waterproof application.

Avoid early morning walks and walks at dusk: “Mosquitoes are most active at dawn or dusk, so if you can avoid walking your dog during these hours, you can reduce the likelihood they will be bitten,” Freeman said.

Use pet-formulated insect repellents. Never use human insect repellent on your pets. DEET, the active ingredient in many common bug sprays, can cause seizures, vomiting and irritation in dogs and cats. Likewise, if you are treating a cat for flea or tick prevention, ensure the repellent is specifically formulated for cats.

Look for clues that fleas or ticks have found their way onto your pet. Small, curly black droppings, known as flea dirt, can be found in the fur even when the fleas are not seen. To confirm if debris in a dog’s fur is flea droppings, Freeman recommends placing it on a white paper towel and adding a drop of water to it. If it turns red, your pet may have fleas.

Ticks attach to the skin for feeding but can be found crawling on the fur when they first settle onto pets. Conduct a quick spot check on pets following walks or time spent outdoors by parting the fur with your hands to check the skin or by using a comb to brush through the fur.

Remove stagnant water around your home. Mosquitoes need water to live and prefer to lay their eggs in stagnant water. Eliminate their breeding grounds by ensuring the area surrounding your home is free from standing water under bushes and behind structures like tool sheds and air conditioners, or in old tires or flower pots.

Treat the issue promptly. If you find fleas or ticks on your pet, there are several ways to get rid of an infestation:

  • Bathe your dog using a specially formulated flea and tick shampoo that is designed to kill parasites.
  • Take your pet to the groomer and let them administer a flea and tick treatment for you.
  • Clean the house. Thoroughly vacuum your home and launder your dog’s bedding, blankets and soft toys in hot water.
  • Use an on-premise insecticide listed as safe for use around pets for the house and the yard to prevent re-infestation.
  • Ask your veterinarian for tips or treatments for infestation problems and possible testing for insect-borne diseases.

*For dogs only. In order to maintain a safe, comfortable environment, we require all pets to be current on their rabies vaccinations and to wait at least 48 hours after any vaccinations before checking in to the Grooming Salon. Not available for pets under five (5) pounds, puppies under 8 weeks old or in Grooming Salons located in NY, NJ or Canada. PetSmart® proof of purchase of flea & tick product is required for free application in the Grooming Salon by salon associate. Subject to availability. Regular price of flea & tick application in Grooming Salon is $6.

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