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5 Pests that are Bad for Pets


Did you know that fleas can jump about a foot off the ground to find a new host? Yeah, it’s definitely creepy, but luckily the most common damage they cause to a pet is just excessive scratching.

Fleas aren’t totally harmless. Not only can they infect a pet with cat-scratch disease and create allergic reactions that cause hair loss and bleeding due to excessive itching, but fleas can also carry tapeworm eggs that are transferred to a pet when they bite themselves while scratching. Signs that a pet has tapeworms include little white grains like rice around their anus and in their feces.

In order to keep fleas away from your pets as much as you can, watch them closely during play or walks outside, then check their fur thoroughly with a flea comb. Treat your pet for fleas, either with over-the-counter products or with a prescription from the vet, who will know the best option for your pet.

Note the areas that have the most flea activity and tell the pest professionals when they come to help treat the fleas.

2. Mosquitoes

If you’ve ever been bitten by a mosquito, you’ve probably noticed red welts and swelling. The same can happen to your pet as well, so it’s a good idea to keep your eye out for the little winged blood-suckers. Most of the time, the itching and swelling persist for a few days up to a week or so. At worst, the mosquito bite could cause allergic reactions or spread harmful diseases like heartworm or malaria.

Although mosquitoes can carry diseases that are very dangerous to humans, heartworm is probably the most concerning disease mosquitoes can transmit to pets. This parasite can cause unusual fatigue after normal activity, a decrease in appetite, sudden weight loss, reluctance to exercise, and a swollen belly from too much fluid in the body. Left untreated, heartworm will eventually cause heart failure.

Malaria, luckily, is much less common in pets. Its side effects look similar to heartworm and other illnesses, including fatigue, reluctance to exercise, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

If you see your pet suffering from any of these symptoms, take your pet to the veterinarian for attention and treatment as soon as you can.

3. Ticks

Just like mosquitoes, these little eight-legged fiends are also bloodsuckers. Hidden in wooded areas and tall grass, they lay in wait for a new host. Once attached, ticks will remain on a new host for days or weeks and are difficult to remove, even with tweezers.

Ticks can spread diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Fever (which can happen anywhere, not just the Rocky Mountains), Cat Scratch Fever, and Ehrlichiosis. In rare cases, usually with smaller pets, some animals can experience anemia from blood loss. Additionally, rare cases could experience paralysis from severe reactions to the chemicals in tick saliva.

To keep ticks away from your home, cut the grass around the foundation short and check your pet carefully with a flea comb after outings and walks, especially after walking through the woods. Consult your veterinarian for the best tick treatments for your pet, whether over-the-counter (OTC) products are best or a prescription is more effective. Consider calling a pest control professional for sure protection in and around your home.

4. Venomous Stingers and Biters


These many-legged critters are like B-grade alien horror movie stars. Although most centipedes won’t cause trouble for your pets, the bigger the centipede, the more dangerous it is. If it’s more than an inch long or so, it could pose a problem because it will use its venomous fangs if provoked.

Most centipede encounters with your pet won’t cause problems, but in rare cases with large centipedes, the venom could cause tissue damage, muscle cramps and spasms, and (extremely rare) heart attacks.

Since centipedes eat just about any bug they can catch, so the best way to keep them away is to spray for bugs. Consider hiring a professional if you have a centipede problem around your property.


The black widow and brown recluse are the most dangerous spiders in the United States, both with highly toxic venom. The black widow can be found throughout the Chicago area, though some of the northerly regions are too cold for it. The brown recluse generally is found in the Southern States.

Although a bite from one of these or other poisonous spiders probably won’t pose a long-term problem for you or your pet, it’s still a good idea to visit the vet right away. Either bring the dead spider with you or take a good-quality photo for identification so that the treatment goes more smoothly.

Keeping spiders away doesn’t have to be complicated when you know that spiders are somewhat lazy when it comes to looking for food and rebuilding their webs. Simply knock down their webs and keep bugs away from your house, and most spiders will leave. Calling a professional exterminator can also help in the process.

Bees and Wasps

Some pets instinctively steer away from these flying stingers, though problems could still come up, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on any nearby bee or wasp nests.

For a typical dog or cat, stings usually don’t do more harm than causing a painful, raised bump on the skin, but even pets can have mild to severe allergic reactions to stings. Talk to your vet about the best thing to do if your pet is stung. Some pets could do perfectly well with an ice pack and some downtime, but others may need additional help.

Some of the most serious bug problems can arise when wasps make their nest in the gutters or in the siding of your house. Some homeowners try to tackle yellow jackets or bees on their own, but they could end up with complicated problems. Call the professionals for help and advice


Although they’re armed with pincers and an intimidating sting, scorpions typically like to keep to themselves. But if a daring cat or curious dog gets too close, one of these creepy crawlers could lash out and cause some serious damage.

A sting from a scorpion could cause pain similar to a bee sting. However, some scorpion venom can be far more potent and dangerous than a wasp sting. If you or your pet is stung, seek medical or veterinary attention right away.

Fire Ants

Although most ants aren’t a problem for your pet, some ants can have stingers almost as potent as a wasp’s that can inject venom multiple times and jaws that can cling to a victim.

If a pet gets involved with an entire colony of fire ants or another stinging ant, it could be disastrous, so consider contacting a professional for help.

5. Wildlife


From raiding garbage cans and gardens, tearing up the grass, ripping up your house, spreading ticks or fleas, and carrying rabies, these masked bandits can cause all sorts of problems on your property and with your pets.

Many dogs can’t resist a good game of “chase the raccoon,” especially since raccoons aren’t shy about the noise they make when scavenging.

To keep from attracting raccoons to your property, lock up your garbage, keep your yard clean of any fallen fruit, branches, or debris. It can save you a lot of headaches and protect your pet from the many problems raccoons can cause for them. Also, place woodpiles, compost, and garbage bins at least 20 feet away from the house.

Mice and Rats

Rodents are famous for crawling through disgusting things on their way to your house, including the sewers. Rats and mice can spread parasites like roundworm or toxoplasma, or diseases like salmonella, any of which can be transmitted to a pet that eats or comes into contact with an infected rodent.

The best way to keep your house from attracting rodents is to seal all your food in airtight containers, including pet food and birdseed. Using silicone caulking, you can also seal possible entry points around your home, including gas or water pipe gaps and other cracks and crevices. Peanut butter snap traps from a local hardware store work well for mice, but rats might need professional experience.


These striped animals trundle around looking for grubs and other skunk treats and behave very similarly to cats and like to keep to themselves. Unfortunately, they do pack a powerful stink and are a primary carrier of rabies that they can pass on to a pet that gets too close.

If your neighborhood has trouble with skunks or other wildlife, it can pay to train your dog or cat to steer clear of them.

Professional Pest Extermination

Some homeowners try to deal with many of these pests on their own. It can be frustrating, time-consuming, expensive, and not to mention creepy to deal with these critters. Fox Pest Control offers free quotes over the phone and a no-obligation, free inspection in person. Our Home Protection Plan continues to benefit over 50,000 Americans, covering crawling and stinging insects and rodents.

When you call for Fox-certified pest control services for your Chicagoland home, you aren’t just hiring a company. You’re joining a family that cares about you and your pet’s well-being. We get the job done right the first time. Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

Posted on April 10, 2020.

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