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

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

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.

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