Pests can sneak into our homes and stay unnoticed for a long time, but for a home with pets, the problem is that some common household pests can pose a health threat to our beloved friends. To help you protect your best friend, know how you can spot signs of pest infestation in your pet’s environment. 

What Pests Can Infest Your Pet’s Area?

Pests that can invade other areas of your home can also infest your pet’s area. Some of the most common pests that can be found in pet areas are:

  • Ants: Ants love everything food-related, so they easily attack your pet's leftover food.
  • Fleas: Fleas frequently attack cats and dogs, feeding on their blood. These jumpy pests can even bite humans when given the chance. Fleas cause great discomfort and can transmit heartworm disease to your pets.
  • Ticks: Ticks typically attach to our pets during walks or outdoor playtime, when they rub on shrubs or grass. Their bites are very itchy and they transmit Lyme disease and other serious conditions to cats, dogs, and humans.
  • Cockroaches: Cockroaches are opportunistic foragers, just like ants. At night, they leave their hiding place to search for food. These nocturnal insects carry disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites from one place to another.
  • Bed bugs: Yes, bed bugs can also infest your pet’s bed. While furry animals are not bed bugs’ favorite hosts (they can’t navigate all the fur), they don’t mind using dogs and cats as transportation. So, if your pet has been somewhere that has bed bugs, it’s likely that they will carry the bed bugs back home with them. 
  • Mice and rats: Rodents are swift home invaders. Mice and rats can carry bacteria and viruses that cause diseases, such as leptospirosis. They can also bring fleas, ticks, and mites with them for a pest combo — yikes!

But how do these pests show signs of their presence? You can generally spot pests in your pet's surroundings by paying attention to clues in their environment and their behavior.

1. Signs in Your Pet’s Behavior

  • Excessive scratching: Many pests cause itchy bites on our beloved pets, such as fleas, ticks, and bed bugs. Dogs can show a reaction to these uncomfortable bites by scratching themselves more than usual. 
  • Excessive licking: Dogs and cats can try to self-soothe their discomfort by licking their paws or the air excessively. Your pet may also show rashes, spots with hair loss, or redness on their skin.
  • Behavior change: Is your dog a very energetic boy, but lately has been refusing to play or go for walks? Has he stopped eating? Fleas and ticks can transmit heartworm disease to dogs and cats, among other serious diseases. So keep an eye on your friend’s mood and run to the vet if you notice any behavioral change.
  • Avoidance or sudden curiosity: Your pet can react to the presence of pests, but these reactions can differ according to your pet’s temperament. In case your pet’s bedding is infested with bed bugs, he might avoid sleeping on it because of the discomfort from the bed bugs biting on him at night.

If Fido has a fearful personality, he might avoid the area or whine when seeing a rodent or cockroach. But if he is more of a hunter, he might appear suddenly extra interested or bark at that hole in your wall you forgot to seal. Cats, for example, can even play with cockroaches or mice before hunting them down.

  • Unexpected gifts: Your dog or cat can bring you some unexpected gifts, so to speak. Bringing dead animals is a natural behavior for cats and dog breeds used for retrieving prey. So if your home has a rodent infestation, your pet might be inclined to gift you with a dead mouse or rat.

2. Visual Clues in Your Pet’s Environment

  • Stained bedding: One typical sign of a flea infestation is the presence of blood stains that appear from when they feed on your pet. Other pests like ticks and bed bugs that also feed on blood can leave similar stains behind.
  • Chew marks on the walls: Have you spotted weird markings on the pet’s bedding or furniture surrounding the area? They might signal the presence of rodents, as they are experts at chewing everything they see.
  • Weird sounds: Rodents and termites can produce a sound. During the night, if you hear scratching sounds coming from your dog’s area, they are most likely coming from rodents. Faint, clicking sounds are typically produced by termites munching on wood. Because pets have better hearing than us, you may catch your dog barking at the walls.
  • Damaged wood or the presence of mud tubes: Is the dog house falling apart without an apparent motive? Have you spotted “dirt veins” coming from the ground and up the walls of the house? Discarded wings around it? These are all signs of a termite infestation.
  • Ant trails: Ant infestations are easy to spot, they will likely appear making trails from their nest to Fido’s food bowl. You can also spot anthills near the area where he sleeps or eats. 
  • Unpleasant odors: Cockroaches can leave a musty, oily odor behind that some people can detect. Rodents’ urine also leaves a strong smell that resembles ammonia.
  • Waste: Termites, fleas, and cockroaches can leave behind droppings that look like sawdust or ground black pepper. Flea dirt is often noticeable on your pet's fur and bedding, while termite and cockroach droppings are often found near holes or cracks in the corners of walls. 

Rodents also leave feces behind, but they are easier to spot with the naked eye. They look like black grains that can resemble rice.

How to Prevent Pests From Infesting Your Pet’s Environment

The best way to protect your pet from unnecessary stress is by preventing pests in your home and your pet’s environment. Here are some tips on how to protect your furry friend from pests:

  • Do check-ups: After going on walks or other outdoor activities, do a quick check on your pet’s neck, abdomen, and paws. Look for signs of bites and try to spot fleas and ticks that might be hiding in their fur.
  • Talk to the vet: A vet can recommend proper medication to prevent fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Additionally, he can suggest products like flea and tick shampoos and collars.
  • Keep everything clean: Periodically clean and dry your pet area, bedding, and food and water bowls. Food crumbs and humidity attract pests, and by maintaining a cleaning routine, you can help keep them at bay.
  • Seal cracks and crevices: Pests can invade through any crevice they can find. To make it harder for them, make sure to seal every crack in your pet’s area.
  • Dry on high heat: If you notice your pet’s bedding has bed bugs in it, wash in hot water and dry on the highest temperature setting for at least 30 min. The heat will get rid of the bed bugs present on the bed. 

But remember: If you spot bed bugs in your pet area, bed bugs might be infesting other areas of your home too. In this case, you’ll have to treat the other areas of your home to make sure no bed bug is left to reinfest your or your pet’s area. Preferably, contact a pro to help you with that, as bed bugs are a handful to treat.

Pro tip: Do not attempt to treat pests in the dog area using home remedies or over-the-counter insecticides, as they can seriously harm your pet and even lead to fatalities. If you suspect any pest problems, consult a qualified vet or a pest control pro before taking further action.

Keep Your Pet Happy and Pest-Free 

Preventing pests or spotting early signs of their presence is critical to ensure our best friends remain healthy and happy. Hopefully, after reading this article you are better equipped to notice any signs of pests in your pet’s area. In case you detect a pest problem, talk to a trusted veterinarian and discuss how you can address the problem to keep your furry pal safe.