Dangerous Pests: Is Your Pet at Risk?


Robin Mountjoy

January 1, 2015

When it comes to preventing pests in your home, it’s important not to overlook one very common source: your pets.

Of course, in addition to bringing nuisances like fleas and ticks into your home, these pests can also cause considerable discomfort and pose significant health risks to your furry friends. Here are a few tips to keep pests off your pet and out of your home.


The dreaded flea. These tiny insects can multiply from one to 1,000 in a mere 21 days. In addition to causing extreme itching in your pets, fleas and their bites can also lead to hair loss, anemia, plague, and even tapeworms. Fleas typically hitch a ride on your pet through contact with other animals or after a romp outside. Fleas can also hop off your pets and on to you – as well as your carpets and furniture. In the DC area, fleas are most active during the late summer and early fall.

In addition to itchiness, signs of a flea problem include excessive grooming and finding flea droppings or eggs on your pet or your pet’s bedding. Getting rid of fleas begins with prevention. In addition to using a professional flea control treatment on your pet year-round, there are natural preventative controls like neem oil (a bio-pesticide) and other solutions that repel fleas using a combination of natural ingredients and essential oils.


In the DC area, ticks are a concern for people and pets alike. That’s because more Lyme disease-carrying ticks have moved into the Mid-Atlantic region in recent years. Ticks can also spread other diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Tularemia. 

These tiny insects attach themselves to warm-blooded hosts, and commonly hitch a ride on your pet’s fur as they walk through tall grass and leaves or under trees. To prevent tick problems, veterinarians recommend staying on top of professional tick treatments (which are applied topically every four to six weeks).

You should also take steps to prevent ticks in your yard, by keeping your grass trimmed and the perimeter of your yard clear of tall grass and debris. If you live in a particularly wooded or shaded area, you may want to consider a professional spray, which can be applied to the perimeter of your yard to ward off ticks. 

Remember, ticks like warm and humid conditions, so come summer, be sure to carefully check your pet for ticks just as you’d check yourself or your kids. If you find a tick on your pet, carefully remove it using a pair of tweezers, ensuring that the whole tick is removed from your pet’s skin. A follow-up with your vet is always a good idea to ensure that the tick bite did not infect your cat or dog.


When the heat and humidity ramp up, so too do swarms of mosquitoes. While you may treat yourself and your kids with mosquito repellant, don’t forget that mosquitoes can attack your pet, too. In addition to causing itchy red bites, mosquitoes can pass diseases like heartworm onto your cat or dog. Heartworm is particularly alarming due to its lack of symptoms and risk to your pet – though it can be treated if caught in time. Mosquitoes can also transmit diseases like Saint Louis encephalitis and West Nile Virus to your pet.

To cut down on your pet’s mosquito bite risk, stay on top of your pet’s heartworm medication and make sure your yard doesn’t become a breeding ground for these pests. Eliminate any standing water on your property and keep your grass cut short. Check out our post, Ten Ways to Fight Mosquitoes This Summer, for more tips on keeping your property mosquito-free for you and your pets.

Happy, Pest-Free Pets

When it comes to protecting your pets from pests, a little prevention can go a long way. Remember to keep your furry friend up to date on vaccines and preventative treatments, and use exclusion techniques around your home to ward off insects.

Have questions about ridding your home of problem bugs? Give us a call or drop us a note. We’re always happy to talk pests or to schedule an inspection to create a tailored treatment plan for your home.