Mosquitoes Pose Threat to You and Your Pets

Now that it’s summertime, I’m truly loving the outdoors. My dogs, too, seem to be enjoying warm weather and balmy evenings, but there’s something all of us hate: mosquitoes.

Many parts of the country have experienced flooding or over-average rainfall amounts this year. If you’ve got standing water, you’ve got ample opportunities for female mosquitoes to lay eggs and…more mosquitoes.

Why should you care? After all, it’s just a mosquito bite, right? And your dog has fur – why should he care?

Let’s talk about our pets, first. Despite fur coats, mosquitoes can make pretty much any of our animal friends miserable. Short-haired dogs and cats are no problem for mosquitoes, and there’s always those tender noses and ears for mosquitoes to hone in on.

For both dogs and cats, that can be a problem because mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease, a parasite that can cause debilitating illness and death. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about having your pets tested for heartworm, then be sure to put them on a monthly heartworm preventative regimen to keep them safe and protected.

Mosquito bites can become infected. If you notice your pet scratching or a bite not healing, apply a wound cream or antibacterial spray, and contact your veterinarian if you don’t see an improvement.

You are at risk, too. The Centers for Disease Control continue to monitor mosquito-borne illnesses like West Nile virus. Since 1999, the CDC reports that 1,600 people have died of the virus, and 17,000 of the 40,000 diagnosed with the virus have suffered serious illness. There are some other nasty diseases associated with mosquitoes too, but you can take some easy steps to keep you, your family and your pets safe from these annoying and sometimes deadly insects.

  • If you’re going to be outdoors, wear mosquito repellent. Take the additional precautionary step of wearing long pants, shirts with long sleeves, and socks to prevent bites. Additionally, the CDC notes that the mosquitoes responsible for transmitting West Nile virus are most active at dawn and dusk, so try and limit your time outdoors during those times.
  • Change out the water in bird baths, pet bowls and wading pools at least weekly. Eliminate standing water in places like gutters, buckets, water trapped in tarps or swimming pool covers, and refuse like old cans or tires.
  • Make sure that your windows are screened to keep mosquitoes out of your house.
  • Many mosquitoes like to stay in the dense shade of overgrown vegetation (like shrubs and hedges). You may need to take direct action by using a lawn spray that helps target mosquitoes and other pests. (Always read and follow label directions.)
  • Take a natural step to fend off mosquitoes by using plants as deterrents. Perennial herbs like rosemary, lavender, lemon thyme and catnip, and annuals like geraniums and marigolds, in addition to the well-known citronella, are believed to help deter insects.

Being outdoors in the summer does not mean you have to serve as the main course for flying vampires. Take a few steps and “fight the bite!”

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