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You and your pets might be spending more time outside as temperatures rise, so it's important to keep an eye out for bugs that like to bite. Many of them carry disease that can affect your dog or cat.
Fleas bite in the adult stage, and when they are on the dog or cat, they can lay eggs that can easily fall off the animal as it moves around, according to Wizzie Brown, entomologist and Extension Program Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office.
“If you do get fleas, you need to treat the animal,” she said. “You need to treat inside your house if you have animals inside and you need to [treat] outside your house if animals go outside.”
Target where animals sleep and hang out, which includes thoroughly cleaning pet bedding or your own bedding. Vacuum well to draw up larvae, pupae and eggs that are in carpeting, rugs or other surfaces.
If you treat with a pesticide, you don’t have to spray everything in the house – a targeted approach is recommended.
Flea combs and special shampoos can also be used to reduce the amount of fleas on the animal.
Ticks will take a blood meal at various stages of their lives and can transmit diseases, including Lyme Disease, to pets, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
Signs of tickborne disease may not appear for seven to 21 days or longer after a tick bite, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite if you suspect that your pet has been bitten by a tick, according to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heartworms can be transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation.
The heartworm infection moves through the animal's body, eventually reaching the lungs and heart, damaging blood vessels and causing lung and heart disease.
The American Heartworm Society recommends testing pets every 12 months for heartworm and giving your pet a heartworm preventive treatment 12 months a year.
Keep in mind that heartworms won't actively reproduce in cats like they do in dogs, but any animal is at risk if it spends time outside.
For more safety and preparedness tips, visit AccuWeather.com/Ready.
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