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Look what the cat dragged in: Pests your pets bring home

(BPT) – Keeping pests out of your home is important, but it can be an uphill battle if you aren’t intercepting them at the source, and in some cases, the source may be your pets.

Pet pests pose unique threats to both people and animals and can be brought inside on fur, skin and clothing. They can easily fall or jump from one surface to another or from an animal to its owner. They are difficult to spot, and they can be carriers of multiple diseases. The good news is they can often be prevented.

Fleas and ticks have unique adaptations that make them well suited to finding and feeding on pets. Animal fur is ideal for them to grab onto when pets walk through woods or grass. When dogs and cats come back inside, be sure to do a complete check to be sure no unwanted hitchhikers are coming in with them.

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), pet pests can be more than just an itchy annoyance. Fleas can transfer tapeworms to your animal friends, cause flea allergy dermatitis, and in rare cases, transmit bubonic plague if they’ve fed on an infected rodent. Ticks are not as noticeable as fleas, but they are known to carry very serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis and can even cause “tick paralysis” in animals.

One of the easiest ways to do a pest check is by combing an animal’s hair/fur and using your hand to smooth fur along the body. Fleas can be seen in fur and along the skin’s surface and beware – they are fast movers and hard to catch. Ticks may feel like a scab or a larger protrusion if they’ve begun to engorge. Also, be on the lookout for skin irritations on your pet and excessive scratching, licking or nibbling, all of which are good indicators of fleas or ticks.

Facts about ticks

* Some tick species have preferred hosts. The American dog tick prefers to feed on domestic dogs and is one of the most common tick species brought into homes.

* Ticks are much easier to spot after a meal. Some species will grow almost four times in size.

* To find a host, ticks clasp onto shrubs or grass with their back legs and reach their front legs out to grab onto passing fur or clothing.

* Wherever they attach, ticks will crawl toward the head of their host. The skin around the neck and ears is thinner and these areas are hardest for animals to groom.

Important facts about fleas

* Fleas can jump up to 8 feet, which is 150 times their own height.

* Fleas typically remain on their host at all times. However, they are easily transferable to furniture or between animals.

* There are more than 2,000 known species and subspecies of fleas, but the cat flea accounts for the majority of infestations in the United States.

* Fleas infest many animals like rodents and raccoons, as well. If you suspect a rodent infestation, fleas may soon follow.

For more advice on protecting your pet from summer pests, consult your veterinarian and if you suspect you have an infestation of pet pests in the home, consult a pest professional to recommend the best treatment option. Find a local pest management company on PestWorld.org.