The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Take steps to keep pets insect-free

 

May 8, 2018



Poor darlings, with their dense fur, proximity to the ground and penchant for laying in dirt and thick grass. They just can’t help it; they’re magnets for trouble.

Nothing rings the dinner bell for parasitic bugs like a furry pal strolling through the yard.

While humans offer similar dining opportunity, their hairless skin and aversion to intrusive critters make it harder to hide and airborne assaults become a swat avoiding dance.

Pets, on the other hand, are much easier to attach to and face more challenges in ridding themselves of tiny critters that crawl deep in the fur or attach to the skin in the most hard-to-reach places, especially when one lacks dexterous digits.

Riskier and more difficult target that they may be, however, humans are in trouble when it comes to insect bites.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control issued a public alert to draw attention to an increase in cases of insect-borne illness and disease.

During a 13-year period from 2004-2016, the number of insect-caused illnesses in humans tripled, nearing 650,000, and those cases include the discovery of nine new germs introduced by insects, according to the CDC.

The biggest culprits posing a threat to humans when it comes to insect disease carriers, incidentally also target pets — mosquitoes, fleas and ticks.

Zika, West Nile, Lyme, chikungunya, dengue and even the more rare plague cases can all be traced back to the troublesome trio.

For that reason, though the CDC warnings specifically address cases of human illness caused by insects, because of the close relationship people enjoy with their pets and the ease with which they attain insect hitchhikers, pets are included in the alert.

The U.S. needs to step up its efforts to reduce exposure to insects and the diseases they carry, at the same time it works to respond to the diseases and illnesses that result, the CDC stated.

In the meantime, individuals have to take charge of their own health by actively protecting themselves, their children and pets from harmful insects.

By no means should people fear their pets or view them as dangerous to their humans, especially when keeping pets safe from blood suckers is fairly simple and straight forward.

• Prevention — Treat your home and yard with EPA-approved insecticide products such as permethrin and when outside, use skin-safe insect repellents. Likewise, treat pets and their bedding with vet-approved insect repellents such as collars, drops, sprays and powders or talk to your veterinarian about a prescription for oral flea and tick control medications.

• Maintenance — Keep grass and weeds cut in your yard and eliminate standing water. Fleas and ticks thrive in dense foliage, and thousands of mosquitoes can easily spawn in small puddles, tires, buckets and even discarded cans and bottles.

• Vigilance — Regular grooming is one of the best ways to keep an eye on your pet’s health because it allows you to quickly observe and monitor issues hidden by all that fur. Also, check for ticks daily, especially after a trip to the park or a romp in the yard. If a tick is found, remove it quickly using tweezers — make sure to detach the head from the skin — and clean the wound with alcohol or iodine.

• Response — With many of the illnesses caused by insect bites, time is the enemy. If you suspect anyone in your family is ill from an insect bite, pets included, seek medical attention just to be safe.

Some health threats are difficult to prevent, but as luck would have it, we have plenty of options for keeping harmful insects away — and it’s more than worth the effort.

Sharna Johnson is always searching for ponies. Contact her at:

[email protected]

 
 

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