Many crawling and flying insects can bite or sting your pet, and several transmit harmful diseases. Our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital wants to help you recognize whether your pet has been bitten, and to recommend steps you can take to keep them healthy.

Fleas and your pet

Fleas are a common culprit when your pet is scratching. These tiny parasites can ingest blood up to 15 times their body weight, and one flea can bite your pet 400 times a day. In addition to being a nuisance, these pests can transmit tapeworms should your pet ingest an infected flea while grooming. Other issues that fleas cause include flea allergy dermatitis, a common problem in pets that results in excessive itching and skin lesions, and anemia, which most commonly affects kittens and puppies. 

  • What signs will you see? — Pets affected by fleas typically are extremely itchy, especially if they have a flea bite allergy. They will scratch, chew, lick, and rub incessantly. You may also observe the tiny parasites moving on your pet’s skin. Flea dirt, which you will see as tiny black flecks on your pet’s coat or their bedding, is another common indication that your pet has fleas. Flea bites typically appear as tiny, raised red bumps, and a diffuse red area may develop around the bites. Common locations include your pet’s head, neck, groin, and tail base.
  • What should you do? — Bathe your pet using a medicated shampoo, and use a flea comb to remove all fleas from your pet’s coat. You will also need to eradicate all fleas from your pet’s environment by washing their bedding and vacuuming areas they frequent. Keeping your pet on a year-round flea preventive is the best way to protect them from these bloodthirsty parasites.

Ticks and your pet

Ticks are opportunistic parasites that latch onto your pet when they walk through tall grass or wooded areas. Ticks can also hitch a ride on your clothing, and find their way to your indoor pet. Many tick species carry dangerous diseases, including Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. 

  • What signs will you see? — Ticks look like wart-like growths, and are easy to spot if they are still attached to your pet. If they are no longer attached, the bite area will typically be red and swollen, and crusting may develop over the center. Common areas affected include your pet’s face, ears, groin, paws, and under their tail.
  • What should you do? — Remove any tick you find on your pet as soon as possible, and place the parasite in alcohol, in case our veterinary professionals need to test for disease. Clean the bite area well, and monitor the site for infection. Checking your pet for ticks after being outside, and providing year-round tick prevention, are the best ways to ensure your pet doesn’t contract a tick-borne disease.

Mosquitoes and your pet

Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms to your pet, and these parasites are extremely damaging to your pet’s heart, lungs, and vasculature. If not diagnosed and treated appropriately, heartworm disease can be fatal for your pet.

  • What signs will you see? — If the mosquito bites your pet in a hairless area, you may notice a red bump, but otherwise, the bite may not be evident. 
  • What should you do? — The mosquito bite is unlikely to cause a problem for your pet unless the bite transmitted heartworms. Keeping your pet on a year-round heartworm prevention protocol is the best protection from this deadly disease. 

Mites and your pet

Mites, such as sarcoptes and demodex, are microscopic parasites that burrow under your pet’s skin, where they take up residence and feast on your pet. They are extremely contagious, and while mites don’t transmit disease, they cause significant distress and discomfort for your pet. 

  • What signs will you see? — Mange can cause skin lesions over your pet’s entire body, affecting the armpits, groin, ear margins, and elbows in particular. Lesions include swelling, redness, hair loss, and crusting or oozing areas. Affected pets are typically intensely itchy. Secondary bacterial and yeast infections are common. 
  • What should you do? — Treating your pet for mites involves prescription medications our team can provide after confirming the diagnosis. Also, you may need to thoroughly wash, or discard, your pet’s bedding, and treat areas your pet frequents with a pet-safe insecticide.

Stinging insects and your pet

Pets frequently enjoy chasing flying insects, and they can get stung if they catch their prey. A sting can be painful, and if your pet is stung on their nose or mouth, swelling in the area can restrict their breathing. In addition, some pets are allergic to insect stings.

  • What signs will you see? — Insect stings cause redness and swelling in the area surrounding the site. The swelling can be severe in some cases. If your pet is allergic, other signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, hives, or collapse.
  • What should you do? — If your pet’s swelling is not severe, and they are not allergic, applying an ice pack to the area should suffice. Otherwise, your pet should receive emergency veterinary care at our Town and Country Animal Hospital.

While you can’t eradicate all the bugs in your pet’s environment, you can protect your pet from illnesses they transmit by providing them with year-round parasite prevention medication. If a bug bite is causing your pet problems, contact our team at Town and Country Animal Hospital, so we can squash the issue.