Summer is a season for outdoor fun. No matter what region of the country you live in, there are so many pawsome outside activities for humans and dogs to enjoy. But if you find yourself irritated by bugs in the great outdoors, chances are these creepy-crawly critters are just as annoying to your dog.
Did you know that some insects can actually be harmful to your dog? Some critters simply bite or sting to protect themselves, inflicting pain on their victims. However, others carry diseases that can be extremely dangerous to your canine companion.
Keep an eye out for these pesky critters when out and about with your pooch, and don’t let them dampen your summer fun.
Many people tend to associate mosquitoes with swampy, humid regions such as Louisiana. However, there are numerous different kinds of mosquitoes, and these critters are present in almost every part of the country.
These insects are problematic because they carry several diseases including Heartworm, West Nile Virus, and Zika.
Heartworm is a common disease that most pet parents are aware of as it affects many dogs each year. Of all the mosquito-borne illnesses, it is the most concerning for dogs.
Dogs can get the West Nile virus, although the risk is low. Like humans, dogs that contract the West Nile virus may or may not present with symptoms. This virus can eventually affect the brain so if your dog begins to exhibit neurological symptoms, see your veterinarian right away.
Often referred to as EEE, this is another disease transmitted by mosquitoes. While it primarily affects horses and humans, EEE has on rare occasions infected dogs and cats. Pets can usually make a full recovery from EEE.
Zika is also spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is linked to birth defects and is, therefore, most dangerous to pregnant humans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have not been any reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Zika. This does not mean that scientists are certain dogs cannot contract Zika, only that there are no reported cases to date. While the risk to dogs and cats appears to be extremely low, more research is needed to fully understand Zika in animals.
Since mosquitoes are found just about everywhere, there is no way to know which ones carry diseases and which do not. Your best prevention against mosquito-borne illnesses is preventing mosquito bites.
If you use bug repellent on your dog, make sure you buy products that are specifically formulated for dogs. Bug spray intended for human use usually contains the active ingredient Deet, which is harmful to dogs. Check with your vet before using a repellent on your furry friend.
Ticks can be found in many parts of the United States. The most common tick-borne disease is Lyme Disease, a potentially serious illness that can be transmitted to both humans and animals.
Ticks can also transmit Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Canine Babesiosis, Canine Bartonellosis, and Canine Hepatozoonosis.
During the summer months, ants can be almost anywhere. Most ants can be a nuisance but remain relatively harmless. However, Fire Ants can be a real danger to your dog. When Fire Ants bite, they release a venom. This venom can trigger a potentially fatal allergic response in some dogs.
If you believe your dog has been bitten by Fire Ants or appears to show signs of Anaphylactic Shock, bring him or her to the vet immediately.
Hornets and Yellowjackets tend to be two of the most aggressive when it comes to flying insects and are also most active during the late summertime months.
Hornets often build nests in rotten wood or old, decaying logs. While Yellowjackets tend to nest low to the ground in old animal burrows. When walking or hiking with your dog, it’s best to steer clear of old, abandoned wooden structures and fallen logs.
Wasps usually build their nests higher off the ground, which is why you may notice large nests in trees or under the overhangs of buildings. Although wasps mainly sting when they are threatened, wasps are capable of stinging multiple times.
Honey Bees, like Wasps, only tend to sting when provoked. Unlike Wasps, the Honeybee can only sting once before it dies. That sting can cause you and your dog quite a bit of pain! So if you and Fido are walking through fields or meadows with flowers, be sure to be on the lookout for Honeybees.
These fuzzy critters look cute and harmless, and for the most part, they are. However, should you spot one, it is best to discourage your curious canine from investigating it further.
A dog might see a caterpillar as a tasty treat. While ingesting some types of caterpillars will not cause life-threatening consequences, some caterpillars are poisonous and can cause serious illness or worse.
Many caterpillars also have very tiny hairs that can easily get lodged in a dog’s mouth, throat, or esophagus. These hairs can cause your furry friend irritation.
“No-see-ums” are a nickname for small, biting flies. They are often referred to this way because their small size makes them difficult to see. However, if you are ever out walking in a wooded area, you know that these flies are one of nature’s great nuisances. However, these biting flies can be painful to your dog if bitten.
When latched on to your pooch, they can suck their blood. In addition to causing rashes, swelling, and skin reactions in the area of the bite, these flies can also spread infection.
It’s important to always be aware of you and your furry friends surrounding while enjoying the outdoors. Here are some helpful tips that can keep you and your dog safe all summer long:
- Know what potentially harmful critters are most prevalent where you live and what time of the day (and year) they are most active.
- Try to schedule activities at times when these harmful insects are less active.
- It’s also a good idea to stay away from rotted woodpiles, standing bodies of water, hollowed-out logs, and other places critters tend to hang out.
- Make sure to talk to your veterinarian about flea and tick prevention for your pet.
- Consult your vet immediately if your pet displays any signs of odd behavior or if you believe they have been bitten by an insect that is causing any type of abnormal reaction.