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If you are a pet owner living in one of LGI Homes’ communities in the great state of Texas, chances are, you and your pets love taking advantage of your spacious backyard, neighborhood parks and community walking trails. While enjoying an evening walk or letting your dog outside to play, your pet’s health is probably the last thing on your mind, but should it be?

While Texas certainly is a great place to live, it is also the state with some of the highest incidences of several outdoor health ailments for pets in the country. The temperate climate allows a number of pests to thrive, many of which are often lurking in grass and bushes, waiting for you and your unsuspecting pet to wander by. By educating yourself about these common pests and other health concerns, you can take the appropriate precautions to protect your pet and ensure the two of you have many more years to look forward to together in your home.

Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that is spread through the bites of mosquitoes, and both dogs and cats are at high risk of contracting this potentially fatal infection. The worms can enter your pet’s bloodstream through a mosquito bite, and from there the worms can travel to your pet’s heart and lungs. The presence of heartworms can cause permanent damage to these vital organs and, if left untreated, they can eventually lead to death. Texas has one of the highest infection rates for heartworm in the United States. Heartworm is curable, but curing it requires early detection and is highly costly. Instead, plan ahead and consult with your veterinarian about putting your four-legged friend on a monthly prescription of a preventive medication. When administered regularly, medication can prevent 99% of heartworm infections in dogs and cats. Since Texas maintains a pretty warm climate throughout the year, year-round administration is recommended.

In Texas, cat fleas are quite common, though dog and rat fleas can also find their way into your beloved pet’s coat, as well as into your home and into your clothing and bedding. Fleas are small, parasitic insects that feed on the blood of a host, and household pets are among some of their favorite meals. Flea bites can cause extreme irritation and itching, especially if your pet has an allergic reaction to the bites. Fleas can easily be prevented with flea control powders, shampoos, pills and food additives. Additionally, regularly vacuuming and cleaning your home can keep the fleas at bay by killing any fleas that find their way into your home and removing eggs before they hatch. Regularly wash your pet’s bedding and inspect your pet thoroughly if you notice it grooming or scratching itself in excess.

Several species of ticks call Texas home, and each of them would love nothing more than to turn your dog or cat into an all-you-can-eat buffet. While you may think ticks only live in forests, they are commonly found in urban developments and anywhere grass is present. Ticks are small arachnids that burrow their way under the skin of a host and then feed on the blood, often passing on a variety of undesirable diseases in their feeding. Ticks can spread Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis to your pet, all of which pose serious health risks to your pet. You can prevent ticks from taking up residence in your dog or cat’s skin by giving them preventative medications, regular baths or by putting a tick repelling collar on them whenever they go outside.

In 2009, Texas had the highest number of reported cases of rabies of any state in the country. Rabies is a fatal viral diseases that causes extreme inflammation of the brain in warm-blooded animals. It also causes extreme aggression and dehydration after infection. Pets can contract rabies from wild animals native to Texas, including skunks, coyotes and foxes. To protect your pet from rabies, be sure to keep them up-to-date on their rabies vaccines through your veterinarian.

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