19 Pests That Are Dangerous to Your Pets

Updated: May 22, 2024

Is your pet safe from these common pests? Check for these warning signs and see what preventative measures you can take.

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How to Keep Pests Safe From Pests

Preventative measures are the key to protecting your dogs, cats and other pets from pest attacks and infestations. Regularly grooming pets can help prevent flea, tick and mite infestations, while keeping the home clean and clutter-free can keep cockroaches and ants at bay.

Proper food storage and waste disposal can also prevent pest infestations and reduce the risk of diseases like salmonella and E. coli. Additionally, regular deworming and heartworm prevention can protect pets from those pests. Outdoor pets should be monitored and protected from potential dangers like bees, wasps and wild animals.

Seeking veterinary care promptly if a pet displays symptoms of an infestation or illness can prevent further complications and protect their health.

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Tick on grass
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Fleas, Lice and Ticks

These parasites feed on blood. Fleas can transmit diseases and cause skin irritation and anemia. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis. Lice can cause severe itching and hair loss. These parasites spread from pets to humans, causing health problems for both.

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wasp or gyellow jacket on weathered wood looking for material for the nest, the wasp plague in summer is dangerous for allergy sufferers, copy space
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Bees and Wasps

Stinging pests like bees, wasps, hornets and yellowjackets can cause severe allergic reactions, which can be life-threatening to pets.

Dogs and cats may chase and try to play with bees or wasps, but their curiosity can quickly result in a painful sting. Some pets may experience anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that may lead to difficulty breathing, vomiting and collapse. Check for signs of bees or wasp nests around your property.

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Raccoon on a branch
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Raccoons

Raccoons can carry and transmit rabies, distemper and roundworm. They’re also known to steal pet food and damage property. Supervise outdoor pets, especially at night. Secure garbage cans and pet food and vaccinate pets against diseases like rabies.

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House mouse (Mus musculus) on the ground closeup.
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Mice andĀ Rats

Common household rodents like mice and rats carry and transmit diseases, including leptospirosis, salmonella and hantavirus. They may also introduce fleas and ticks into the home.

Rats can be aggressive and attack small pets like mice, hamsters and guinea pigs. Avoid clutter inside and outside your home that attracts rodents, and look for the warning signs of nesting.

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gadfly on dandelion
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Botflies

These dangerous parasites lay eggs on the skin of animals. When hatched, the larvae burrow into the pet’s skin, causing lesions and sometimes infections. In extreme cases, larvae migrate to other areas of the body, causing severe tissue damage and life-threatening conditions.

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Dangerous Zika Infected Mosquito Skin Bite. Leishmaniasis, Encephalitis, Yellow Fever, Dengue, Malaria Disease, Mayaro or Zika Virus Infectious Culex Mosquito Parasite Insect Macro.
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Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes transmit diseases like West Nile virus, which can cause severe illness and neurological damage, and heartworm, which can be fatal. Protective measures like outdoor mosquito repellents, pet heartworm preventatives and limited outdoor time during peak mosquito seasons can help.

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Close-up of ant on ground
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Fire Ants

Fire ants can bite and sting pets, causing pain, swelling and allergic reactions. Fire ants are especially dangerous because their stings can be severely painful, causing swelling and even anaphylaxis in some pets. An additional danger: Pets eating ant bait left out by owners, which can be toxic.

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A close-up of a black widow spider on a web
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Spiders

Some spiders species, like black widows and brown recluses, are venomous. Pets who accidentally disturb spiders and are bitten may experience pain, swelling, vomiting and lethargy. Keep landscaping free of spider webs and debris.

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Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) on a raspberry leaf closeup
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Caterpillars

Some caterpillar species have poisonous spines or hairs that can cause skin irritation, swelling and even systemic illness if ingested by your pets. The puss caterpillar is one of these species. Its venomous spines can cause intense pain, swelling and even shock.

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Assassin Bugs
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Assassin Bugs

Assassin bugs bite and inject venom, causing pain, swelling and allergic reactions. The bites may transmit Chagas disease, a potentially life-threatening condition that affects pets and humans. Pets may accidentally disturb assassin bugs while playing or exploring, increasing the risk of a bite.

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Group of bedbugs on the matress cloth macro
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Bed Bugs

Bed bugs do not transmit diseases to pets. However, they can cause skin irritation, leading to excessive scratching and skin infections. Pets may also carry bed bugs from one location to another, making infestation control challenging.

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ear mite from a cat, under the microscope
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Mites

Mites irritate the skin of pets, triggering excessive scratching and hair loss. Some, like ear mites, can cause more severe conditions, like ear infections. Demodex mites, present in small numbers on most pets, can become overpopulated and cause a skin condition known as demodectic mange.

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Cockroach
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Cockroaches

Cockroaches carry bacteria and other pathogens, leading to salmonella and E. coli. Pets may accidentally ingest cockroaches, their droppings or contaminated surfaces, leading to gastrointestinal upset and other health issues. Additionally, cockroach infestations can exacerbate allergies and asthma in pets and humans.

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Brown marmorated stink bug, indoors
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Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are not venomous and do not transmit diseases. However, they can be a nuisance to pets due to their unpleasant odor, creating discomfort and irritation in their eyes and respiratory system. Additionally, pets may accidentally ingest stink bugs, leading to gastrointestinal upset. These are the best stink bug repellent options to get rid of these pests and keep it that way.

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DOG HEART WORM. DIROFILARIA IMMITIS. MICROFILARIAE. BLOOD SMEAR, 100X at 35mm
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Worms

Worms cause various health problems for pets, including diarrhea, vomiting and anemia. Certain species, including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms and heartworms, can cause life-threatening health issues if untreated. Some worms can even be transmitted to humans. Good hygiene significantly reduces the risk of worm infestations.