Dangers Of Insects

Most insects are just annoying. But insects can poison your pet or bring misery from constant itching.

Bees and Ants

Our pets approach the world nose first, so stings from bees (and their cousins the wasp, yellow jacket and hornet) and bites from fire ants most often occur in their mouths or around their noses. Both are potentially life threatening as swelling in the throat can make breathing difficult. To help decrease swelling, chill the site with crushed ice wrapped in a washcloth and smooth baking soda paste over the wound. Stingers are best scraped out with a fingernail or credit card, but if this is not possible they can be removed with tweezers.


Although you won”t see the external effects of a mosquito bite, the long-term effects could be devastating. Baby heartworms, carried by the mosquito, crawl into the bite wound and make their way to your pet”s heart. By the time they”re fully mature, female worms can measure up to sixteen inches in length. Adult heartworms live in the heart and large blood vessels of the lungs, impairing heart and lung function. This results in chronic cough, exercise intolerance and chronic heart disease. It can even lead to death.

Take these simple steps for prevention:

  • Put your dogs and cats on a heartworm preventive and have them tested annually.
  • Clear brush and standing water on your property.
  • Invite insect-loving birds and bats into your yard with birdhouses, feeders and bat houses.

Fleas, Fleas and More Fleas

Many dogs and cats have become anemic because of flea infestations. All that scratching your pet is doing may actually be a flea allergy. All it takes is one flea to bite your pet to start an allergic reaction. Tapewormslong flat worms that live in your pet”s intestines where they absorb nutrients that should be going to your petare caused by the ingestion of fleas. Fortunately, a variety of flea control products are available for most any situation.

Unfortunately, fleas are a fact of life. The key is to control them, and that means total environmental control. In addition to treating your pet, treatment of your yard and home is a must. Vacuuming at least once a week and washing your pet”s bedding regularly will help remove adult fleas, larvae and eggs. Some have found that adding garlic and brewer”s yeast to their pet”s diet is helpful.

Creepy Crawlies

Be wary of black widow and brown recluse spiders in your garage, basement, woodpiles and brush. Some spider venoms are more potent than rattlesnake venom. These venoms contain digestive enzymes that continue to damage the tissue after the bite, causing the wound to grow and result in secondary infection. If you see a spider biting your pet, capture it if possible for future identification. Call your veterinarian for instructions on treatment.

Ticks and Lyme Disease

In addition to dining on our pets, ticks carry the organism that causes Lyme disease, a disease that causes painful arthritis-like symptoms. Ticks are more abundant in warm weather and in wooded or high-grass areas. If there”s a path, stick to it. Some ticks are easily seen, while others are mere specks. Whether they”re on your pet or on you, remove them within 24 hours. Be sure to remove the whole tick, including the head, which may be buried in the skin. Tick control and prevention solutions can save your pet an uncomfortable and unhealthy experience.