For so many of us, our furry friends make up another member of the household. We cannot imagine a life without our dogs and/or cats, and we enjoy their company as much as they need ours.
However, there are times when being a pet owner brings with it a downside, and one of those includes when your little buddy or princess brings home an unwanted guest alongside.
Pets can and do unwittingly bring bugs into our homes. It’s not their fault – the insect is just taking advantage of a free ride. But you should be aware of this issue and also be ready to handle it, as well as do your best to prevent it.
With that in mind, let’s start by taking a look at some of the pests your best friend may accidentally introduce into your home – and what you can do if that eventuality occurs.
Pests Our Pets Bring Inside
Most of the insects and other critters that your dog or cat brings inside hop on your dog in order to get a meal. That’s right, your pet is most likely to bring home a parasite. And while ot may take an initial meal from your dog or cat, they may then hang around indoors, looking for another target: you and your family.
- Fleas – A pest as old as recorded history, these tiny, blood-sucking insects thrive from living on an animals’ fur coat, where they bite the skin and lay their eggs for another round of pests to hatch. The most common fleas to our region are “Cat Fleas” – but make no mistake, these pests love biting dogs just as much, and they will happily hitch a ride inside on any type of furry pet. Adult fleas are easy to see, and they are also happy to bite humans. And while their bite is not necessarily painful, it is certainly an annoyance and can also spread disease (rat fleas have often been fingered as the culprit for the spread of the bubonic plague in the middle ages). The problem with fleas is not necessarily what you see, however, as only about 5 percent of a flea population consists of adults – the rest consists of 50 percent eggs, 10 percent pupal and 35 percent larvae. All this means that if you see an adult flea inside, you may have potentially hundreds or thousands more just waiting to hatch and make life more miserable. For example, female fleas live for roughly 100 days, all the while laying anywhere from 400-500 eggs.
- Ticks – Not actually an insect – they are arachnids (related to spiders) – there are three common types of ticks in Georgia, and all will happily attach themselves to your pet for a meal and can thus easily hitch a ride inside. The brown dog tick can transmit rocky mountain spotted fever, the blacklegged deer tick can transmit lyme disease, and the lone star tick can transmit ehrlichiosis (a bacterial infection that is treated with antibiotics). Once hatched, ticks need to eat blood in every stage of their life cycle in order to survive, wherever they may be located. These pests do not typically seek out indoor life. In fact, ticks thrive outdoors, usually in areas where humidity is 90 percent or higher, so air-conditioned living does not attract them. However, if they do find themselves inside after hitching a ride on your pet, the tick will continue to search for more meals – and that may mean yourself or your family, as ticks are able to identify prey in scarily quick fashion.
- Mosquitoes – Another parasite, these flying pests will happily attach themselves to your pet for a meal and may be brought inside unwittingly. And while they do not breed inside, needing stagnant water in order to lay their eggs, certainly they can come after anyone or anything once they are inside. And, of course, there are number of mosquito-borne illnesses present in the state of Georgia, including West Nile virus, Eastern Equine encephalitis virus, and LaCrosse virus. Saint Louis encephalitis virus has also been detected in Georgia in the past.
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NOTE: Bed bugs can also hitch a ride on your pet, however, they do not move well in animal fur and prefer to enter your home through suitcases and used furniture. There is a small risk of bed bug infestation via your pets, but it is very small. Bed bugs are much more attracted to humans – the carbon dioxide a human releases is what attracts a bed bug, and they can sense it from over 50 feet away.
How to Keep Pests Outside
Hopefully, you have not noticed any of these parasites inside your home. But just because you have not does mean that you are immune to infestation. And in order to keep your home pest free, there are some steps you should take to keep these nasty critters both outside and off your pets.
- Get your pet shielded – The first thing to do is to talk with your vet and ensure that your dog or cat is up to date on flea and tick medication. These advances in pet care have made a world of difference in keeping pests outside and are easily taken and handled by every manner of dog and cat. If a pest does not want to attach itself to your pet in the first place, the likelihood of them getting into your home is drastically reduced.
- Keep your pets groomed – Even if a pest does find itself on your dog, a good bath will help knock it off. There are shampoos that contain flea treatments for an even greater bug-fighting benefit. You should also use a brush or comb to groom your dog at least once a week—do it outside before they come in to help assure no hitchhikers come indoors. You can also keep long-haired dogs shaved in the summer, so it’s harder for pests to hide.
- Make your yard unappealing for pests – A neat and tidy lawn can help keep ticks and mosquitos at bay. Ticks love tall grass – it gives them an easier vantage point from which to attach themselves to your pets. Meanwhile, mosquitos require standing water – they can even use tiny bits of moisture on a leaf or underneath mulch if they are hard up for a water source – so be sure to avoid any standing water on your property, and that includes checking and emptying your pets’ water bowl.
- Keep indoors clean too – Just like outside, the more of a mess you have indoors, the easier it is for pests to hide and inhabit. Carpets and rugs, especially, need consistent vacuuming in order to rid them of any insect eggs or larvae.
- Beware of the doggy door – These tiny entrances may be convenient for your pet, but they can also be a convenient gateway for outdoor pests. They allow your dog to come inside before you’ve inspected them, and many insects can use them as an entry point even without your pet.
What to Do if You Face an Infestation
So, what happens if you do encounter a flea, mosquito or tick influx? First off, make sure that you follow all of the steps above, and then call in a professional to make sure that you banish those awful parasites for good.
A professional pest control expert like Zone can make short work of any type of flea, mosquito or tick encroachment and will get you and your furry friend back to carefree times.
If you face any pest problems, please call Zone today at 770-904-5432. We have helped countless customers – and their pets – to enjoy pest free and happy days throughout north Georgia and metro Atlanta.