Pets and Diseases from Insects

For many, pets are more than just animals they are best friends and a member of our family. Consequently, when a pet becomes sick it can be the equivalent of a family member become ill or not feeling well. Understanding the risks that a dog, cat, horse or other animal is exposed to by insects like mosquitoes, fleas and ticks can go a long way in ensuring that our pets do not become exposed to a dangerous parasite.

Lyme Disease:

Just as humans can develop Lyme disease from ticks so too can pets including dogs, cats, horses, cows and goats. Furthermore, because these animals often lack the same antibodies that humans do contracting this disease can prove to be deadly. Often, the symptoms of Lyme disease can manifest in a pet as being those of a common cold or otherwise innocent appearing sickness. However, anyone living on a farm or in areas prone to ticks should pay attention to any of the following symptoms: fever, soreness, lameness, loss of appetite, swollen joints and listlessness. Because the signs can range from being mild to severe it is important to consult a veterinarian immediately if you believe your pet has Lyme disease. It is far better to err on the side of caution even if the diagnosis is wrong than to wait if unsure. To prevent the ticks from spreading inside your home be sure to check your pet daily by brushing over the dog’s fur to remove any insects.

Pets and Fleas:

Many pet owners make the common mistake of believing that fleas are only a nuisance that pose little to no threat to their animal. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth as there are several diseases that can be spread from a flea to a dog. Most commonly, a dog will develop tapeworms from a flea that can wreak havoc on the animal’s immune system and cause weight loss, lethargy, fever and much more. Although most common in dogs, fleas can also be found on cats or almost any other indoor domesticated animal.

Heartworm Disease

During the warm spring and summer months, dogs love nothing more than being set free in a yard to run, play and jump. Unfortunately, a mosquito bite on a dog is the primary cause of heartworm and can pose crippling and deadly symptoms to your pet. While in humans a mosquito bite is often nothing more than a persistent itch or scratch in a dog it can lead to serious disease. Most often, a mosquito bite on a dog can lead to heartworm disease that is spread from one dog to the next. For instance, if a mosquito bites dog A and withdraws blood, than that blood is then passed to dog B when the mosquito bites again. The blood withdrawn from dog A may contain heartworm offspring that are then passed and transmitted to dog B. Once a dog has contracted a heartworm, it can grow into a parasite that is more than a foot in total length. As one can imagine a parasite of this size can cause the dog to have difficulty breathing, fainting, vomiting, coughing and lack of interest in exercise. Luckily, if caught early heartworm can be treated with antibiotics and rest prescribed by a veterinarian.

While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk a pet faces from insects steps can be taken to minimize the likelihood of an animal developing a deadly disease. Always checking a dog’s fur for ticks and fleas after playing in the yard or putting a mosquito control plan for your home are just a few of the steps that can be taken.