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6:55 AM Sun, Sept. 23rd

Tips for keeping dogs and cats free of ticks, fleas, skeeters

Never treat pets with insect repellent forumulated for humans. It can cause seizures, vomiting and other irritation in pets. (MetroGraphics)

Never treat pets with insect repellent forumulated for humans. It can cause seizures, vomiting and other irritation in pets. (MetroGraphics)

PHOENIX (PetSmart via AP) — According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illnesses from fleas, ticks and mosquitos have tripled in the United States over the past 13 years.

Veterinarians at PetSmart, Inc., the leading pet specialty retailer in North America, are providing tips on how to keep pests off pets and keep pets safe from illnesses related to pests.

“As we head into the summer months, and with insect-borne illnesses on the rise, it’s important to protect our pets,” said Nick Saint-Erne, DVM, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “Parasites like fleas, ticks and mosquitos are problematic for dogs and cats as they spread diseases between animals, including heartworm. The best way to keep pets safe is to prevent infestation and mosquito bites from occurring in the first place.”

Year-round treatment is ideal, and there are a variety of products that offer protection. Select a product that treats all infestation issues and prevents infestations from reoccurring. If your pet spends time outdoors or goes swimming, be sure to use a waterproof application.

Mosquitos are most active at dawn or dusk, so avoid walking your dog during those hours to reduce the likelihood the dog will be bitten.

A preventative treatment can can repel pests before they get on your pet and can also kill any pests that may have found their way onto your pet. Be sure to use pet-formulated insect repellants. Never use human insect repellent on your pets. DEET, the active ingredient in many common bug sprays, can cause seizures, vomiting and irritation in dogs and cats.

Likewise, if you are treating a cat for flea or tick prevention, ensure the repellant is specifically formulated for felines. “Do not use products on pets younger than the ages specified on the product instructions, nor on pets that are not specifically listed on the label,” Saint-Erne said.

Look for clues that fleas or ticks have found their way onto your pet. “Flea dirt,” small, curly black droppings, can be found in the fur even when the fleas are not seen. To confirm if debris in a dog’s fur is flea droppings, Saint-Erne recommends placing it on a white paper towel and adding a drop of water to it. If it turns red, your pet may have fleas.

Ticks attach to the skin for feeding, but can be found crawling on the fur when they first settle onto pets. Conduct a quick spot check on pets following walks or time spent outdoors by parting the fur with your hands to check the skin or by using a comb to brush through the fur.

Remove stagnant water around your home. Mosquitoes need water to live and prefer to lay their eggs in stagnant water. Eliminate their breeding grounds by ensuring the area surrounding your home is free from standing water under bushes and behind structures like tool sheds and air conditioners, or in old tires or flower pots.

Treat the issue promptly. If you find fleas or ticks on your pet, there are several ways to get rid of an infestation: Bathe your dog using a specially formulated flea and tick shampoo that is designed to kill parasites. The shampoo begins to work after your dog is out of the bath. Take your pet to the groomer and let them administer the treatment for you. Clean the house. Thoroughly vacuum your home and launder your dog’s bedding, blankets and soft toys in hot water. A carpet powder or fogger can also effectively treat the home. Use an on-premise insecticide listed as safe for use around pets for the house and the yard to prevent re-infestation.