- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The popular push for locally produced food has spawned flocks of backyard chickens in urban neighborhoods nationwide, but people may not realize that feasting on fresh eggs can mean subjecting their more typical household pets to pain from a new pest that hitches a ride on hens.

The poultry flea has been added to a list of parasites, venomous insects and other bothersome pests that take a bite out of dogs and cats every summer, veterinarians said. These bloodsucking pests are different from the most common fleas in the U.S. because they embed their tiny bodies into an animal’s flesh. Poultry fleas aren’t known to transmit disease but can cause infection when they sink into skin.

“You see them on pets that are around environments with chickens, which are becoming more common now that so many people have backyard flocks,” said Dr. Julie Meadows from the Community Practice Service at University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Meadows helped The Associated Press compile a list of other summertime pet enemies and how to combat the creepy crawlers:

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TRADITIONAL FLEAS

These bloodsuckers will spend their lifetime - a couple of weeks to nearly two years - feeding off your furry friends and making them itch. The insects also lay their young on the animal, unlike poultry fleas. They become a medical problem instead of a nuisance when a pooch is allergic to flea saliva.

Some products will kill the adult fleas, and insect growth regulators or birth control products will kill larvae, interrupting the flea life cycle.

Cats don’t have too much trouble with fleas unless they are allergic. If so, cats will develop tiny scabs all over their bodies, lose coat density and sometimes develop sores.

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TICKS

Four or five species of ticks hop on dogs from bushes and long grasses where people go backpacking, camping and hiking.

Ticks spread diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease, some of which can be life-threatening and some that can be passed to humans.

Tick products are often combined with flea products, including topical and oral products, making ticks easier to kill.

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