As summer quickly approaches, so too do a few summer nuisances, namely mosquitoes and ticks. These warm weather pests can trouble both humans and their four–legged friends.

Mosquito bites can be just as uncomfortable for dogs as for people, but they also carry an additional risk for canines. Heartworm is a painful and potentially fatal disease spread by mosquitoes.

“What happens is, they bite an infected dog, they have to live two weeks, and then they would pass that on to your dog,” said Dr. Kellie Holmstrom, a Veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center of Marquettte. “We don’t see a huge heartworm problem here, because our mosquitoes typically don’t live two weeks.”

Despite the reduced risk, veterinarians still recommend heartworm vaccinations along with vaccinations and preventative measures against a more prominent illness: the tick–borne Lyme Disease.

“We recommend that they’re vaccinated for Lyme’s. It’s two vaccines originally, then once a year after that,” Holmstrom added. “We also recommend that they cut their grass often, because high grass is an area that ticks like to live in, and then we have product that you can put on your dog to decrease its tick exposure. The current one that we’re recommending, which is Activyl, is actually a repellant and will keep the ticks from landing on your dogs.”

Twelve animals treated by the Animal Medical Center of Marquette have already tested positive for Lyme Disease this year, which is an increase from last year’s numbers. Vaccines for heartworm and Lyme Disease are not foolproof, so veterinarians advise pet owners to remain vigilant in regards to their pets’ health.