(NewsUSA) - Pets, like humans, have been anxiously waiting for warm weather to play outdoors and enjoy nature. However, pet owners should prepare for a pest battle unlike in previous years as hungry ticks, fleas and mosquitoes await their prey -- of the two- or four-legged kind.
"Pet owners should take special care to protect their pets from ticks, fleas and mosquitoes this season," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). "Always inspect animals' coats thoroughly after they spend time outdoors."
Due to several factors, such as the low acorn crop in 2011, the biting trio are out in full force this year, and they may bring their not-so friendly diseases with them.
Cats and dogs are susceptible to heartworm transmitted by mosquitoes, which can lead to lung and heart disease. Most pet owners know ticks are carriers of Lyme disease, but pet owners must also familiarize themselves with Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tick paralysis. The latter usually occurs when a tick attaches too closely to a dog's spine, causing respiratory problems and, in severe cases, death. Fleas aren't any safer as their saliva can transfer anemia, dermatitis and tapeworms.
"Fleas are known for their quick breeding capabilities, and a handful on your pet can quickly turn into hundreds in your home if left unchecked," explains Henriksen. "Their small size and mobility make it impossible to detect them on surfaces such as carpets and linens."
Protect the health of your beloved pets and your family by trusting some key pest prevention tips from the NPMA:
* Avoid walking through tall grass or thick, low-growing vegetation with your pets.
* Bathe pets regularly to detect pests and get rid of them. If you have a long-haired animal, brush their fur to keep track of any pest activity.
* Vacuum and wash pet bedding and toys often, especially if you notice or suspect fleas.
* Pay attention to excessive scratching, licking or nibbling behavior in your pets.
* Talk to your veterinarian about options to protect your animals, like heartworm or anti-flea and -tick medicines.
* If you discover a pest problem, contact a local pest professional immediately to determine if the pest problem has occurred as a result of an infestation in and around your home.
If you're unsure of where to find a credible, licensed pest control expert, use the locator tool at www.pestworld.org.