Most dogs love the outdoors – roaming around and investigating what treasures nature has to offer. Unfortunately, many of these "treasures" are annoying, even dangerous, bugs that can hitch a ride on your dog and unsuspectingly be brought into your home. The following are some of the worst bugs your dog can bring indoors.
These small brown insects hide in cool, shady areas among shrubs, leaves and tress until a host (like your dog) passes by. The flea(s) then jump on your dog and are brought into your home, quickly becoming a menace. In fact, according to the American Animal Hospital Association, just one flea can multiply to 1,000 fleas in your home in just 21 days. Suddenly you and your dog are itching, scratching and picking at scabs. Even worse, fleas can bring about tapeworms and other serious diseases. Save yourself the headache and prevent infestations before they start by using a flea preventive for dogs. They come in various forms to suit you and your pet's preferences, including flea collars, spot-ons and even oral medications.
Ticks also love to hang around shady and wooded areas, waiting for an unsuspecting host (like your dog) to get close enough to attach to. Once attached, tick(s) feed on the host's blood (which can be any mammal, including you!) and can transmit deadly diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and babesiosis from just a single bite. Contrary to what some may think, ticks can be a year-long problem. Protect your dog by treating him or her with a tick preventive. Like flea preventives, they come in various forms, including collars, spot-ons and oral medications. Some even protect against ticks and fleas.
Mosquitoes are an outdoor nuisance that can quickly become an indoor problem. But it isn't only the biting from the female mosquitoes you need to worry about. Heartworms, which are spread through mosquitoes that carry the infective larvae, are a much deadlier issue for your dog. Heartworm larvae migrate from the bite wound through the dog’s body until they reach the heart and blood vessels of the lungs. Once mature, adult heartworms can grow to be about 12 inches long and cause significant mechanical blockage to the normal flow of blood. Depending on the severity of the disease, it can even lead to death. There are several heartworm preventives available. Consult your veterinarian to determine which is best for your dog.
Like mosquitoes and ticks, kissing bugs (triatomines) are blood suckers. They are attracted to odors and warm-blooded hosts (like our dogs). They also are the cause for a deadly disease in dogs and people called Chagas disease. Currently there is no effective treatment for dogs with Chagas disease, so if you live in a region with kissing bugs, take precautions and monitor your dog to be sure he or she does not eat any bugs.
Also called the Cuterebra fly, larvae of the botfly hang out in grass, latching onto warm-blooded hosts (like your dog) that are passing through. Symptoms of botfly infestation include seizures, aggression, blindness, and warbles (or lumps) in the skin where the larvae has taken up residence. According to the VCA Animal Hospital, the best prevention is to keep your dog from hunting rodents. "When this is impossible and if you live in an area with numerous rodents, rabbits or other small mammals, you should closely inspect your dog regularly for any signs of warbles. The earlier a warble is removed, the less likely the chance of permanent or serious damage to your dog."