Bug bites are a common problem in the summer months, particularly as certain insects are more active when the temperatures are warmer. Unfortunately, your dog is just as likely to be affected by a bug bite as you are, and like us, our pets can have some pretty unpleasant reactions to some types of bite. This is because some insects are capable of transmitting life-threatening bacteria, viruses, or parasitic infections.
So, what insects are we dealing with here? Well, while it is impossible to talk about every type of bug that might bite your pet, there are some that are more likely to affect her than others.
Here are some of the most common bug bites experienced by pets in the U.S. and what you can do to treat them.
Flea bites are arguably the most common bites affecting dogs and cats today. These bloodthirsty parasites live on your pet’s skin, drinking her blood. Their saliva causes irritation and will make your furbaby extremely itchy. Fleas can also carry diseases – including the parasite, tapeworm.
If your pet has fleas, you will need to treat not only your pet but your home as well, as they can survive without a host for a number of weeks. This, combined with their rapid rate of reproduction means that they can quickly infest your property.
Ticks are well known for spreading a variety of different diseases including Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Their bite can be toxic too, and in some cases cause a condition known as tick paralysis which can be fatal. Ticks are small, wingless parasites that transfer to your pet when she brushes past long grasses, trees, and bushes.
To treat a tick bite, you must first remove the tick from your pet’s body. This involves using a special tick-remover tool or a pair of tweezers to extract it. Never squeeze the tick as this could cause it to regurgitate infected blood onto yours or your pet’s skin.
Equally you should never try and burn the tick off. Once you have removed it, drop it into a small amount of alcohol to kill it. Contact your veterinarian and clean your pet’s skin with antiseptic wipes and monitor for any adverse effects that might indicate she has been affected by a tick-borne illness.
Mosquitoes are just as happy to suck into your pet’s blood as they are yours. Mosquitoes are also the one and only vector of heartworms, causing heartworm disease in dogs and cats. Mosquito bites can cause swelling, redness and hives to appear, but these tend to only last a few hours and then the effects will dissipate. The most common treatment for mosquito bites targets the itching that tends to occur and is usually a topical ointment such as hydrocortisone cream.
Mites are microscopic insects that burrow into layers of your pet’s skin and feed on her blood. When they do this, they create lesions in her skin that quickly become inflamed and secondary infections often set in. Mites require prescription medication to rid your pet of the infestation. Your veterinarian may also prescribe an antibiotic to treat any secondary infection.
Prevention is better than cure
It probably doesn’t surprise you to know that prevention is always a better option than trying to treat a medical problem. The good news is that it is entirely possible to protect your cat or dog from the effects of a bug bite.
There is a wide range of different preventative treatments available, each of which has a specific lifespan. As such, it is essential that you schedule your pet’s preventatives year-round so there is never a gap where she is left vulnerable to an insect bite.
Common types of preventive treatment include:
- Spot-on treatments
- Oral medications
You can also purchase products that can help protect your property and yard from specific insects, such as fleas and ticks.
If you have any questions about the best way to treat bug bites, or you would like advice on the best type of preventive to give your pet, please contact our knowledgeable and friendly veterinary team.