Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs? How to Protect Your Furry Friend

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You’re well aware of the itch and buzz of mosquitoes each summer, but do mosquitoes bite dogs? Yes, mosquitoes bite both humans and pets, including dogs. Their bites can cause many health problems for Fido because they carry diseases, including heartworms, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. 

Pet owners should take preventive measures to protect their cherished family members from these potential health risks. Here are a few ways to keep your furry friend safe from mosquito bites.

Why Mosquito Bites Can Be Dangerous for Dogs

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Mosquitoes can spread different diseases to dogs, such as heartworm, West Nile virus, and Eastern equine encephalitis. Heartworm disease is especially hazardous and can result in death if not treated. Therefore, pet parents should take precautions against mosquitoes to safeguard their pups from potential health problems.

  • Heartworms: Infected mosquitoes can transmit larvae into a dog’s bloodstream when they bite. These larvae can migrate to the dog’s heart and lungs, where they mature into adult worms that can cause significant damage to the cardiovascular system. A veterinarian can test for the disease and prescribe monthly heartworm prevention medication.
  • West Nile virus: This virus is a severe health concern for dogs and humans. It can cause encephalitis, a dangerous inflammation of the brain, and is transmitted through infected mosquitoes. Although West Nile is rare in dogs, and most fully recover, prevention is better than treatment.
  • Eastern equine encephalitis: Although it is rare for dogs to contract this virus, the disease is transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes. It can cause inflammation of the brain, leading to serious health problems.

How to Prevent Mosquito Bites on Dogs

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Mosquitoes can cause mild discomfort and itching or seriously threaten our furry friends. To protect your dog from potential health risks, it is essential to take preventative measures against mosquito bites and the diseases they can transmit. Here are some practical ways to protect your pet:

  • Keep your dog indoors during peak mosquito hours (dawn and dusk): Keeping them inside when mosquitoes are most active will reduce the possibility of your dog being bitten.
  • Use dog-safe mosquito repellents: Mosquito repellents designed for humans can be toxic to dogs. Only use mosquito repellents specifically formulated for dogs. You can usually apply these pet-safe insect repellents to their fur.
  • Remove standing water from your yard: Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so removing any sources of standing water is essential. Here are some steps you can take.
  • Keep your dog’s bedding and living area clean and dry: Mosquitoes are attracted to warm and humid environments. Therefore, keeping your dog’s bedding clean and dry can make it less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Use mosquito nets to protect your dog: Installing mosquito nets around your dog’s sleeping area is another effective way to keep mosquitoes at bay.
  • Keep your dog well-groomed: Mosquitoes are attracted to the heat and the smell of your dog’s body. Regular grooming can help reduce odors and make your dog less attractive to mosquitoes.
  • Use mosquito traps: Mosquito traps, like a CO2 trap or autocidal gravid ovitrap (AGO), can effectively eliminate mosquitoes. You can place them around where your dog hangs out. For skeeter control on the cheap, AGO traps are among the cheapest and most effective traps for controlling mosquito populations.
  • Use mosquito-repelling plant oils: Certain plant extracts, such as lemongrass, citronella, and peppermint, can help repel mosquitoes when diffused or burned outdoors.
  • Have pest control pro spray your yard: To keep mosquitoes away from your yard, have a pest control company spray mosquito repellent in the area. After spraying, ask the company how long your pets should stay off the treated grass.

Note: It’s recommended that you let a pro spray for the type of mosquitoes in your area and reduce the risk of the EPA-approved chemicals harming the environment.

What Does a Mosquito Bite Look Like on a Dog?

If you see a mosquito bite on your dog, it can look like a red, raised bump or a small, itchy welt. Your dog may also scratch or lick the area. Most mosquito bites are harmless but can sometimes cause allergies or infections. Do not delay seeking advice from your veterinarian if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction or infection.

Signs of Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Dogs

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If you suspect your dog may have contracted a mosquito-borne illness, seek medical attention immediately. Your dog can recover quickly and fully from such an illness with proper care and attention. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, take it to the vet as soon as possible:

  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pressing their head against a wall
  • Loss of appetite
  • Walking in circles
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Blindness
  • Depression or irritability

Mosquito Repellents That Are Toxic to Dogs

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Mosquito repellents that are safe for humans may harm dogs due to their sensitivity to certain chemicals. Dogs can experience mild irritation or severe toxicity by coming into contact with or ingesting these chemicals or even through secondary contact, such as licking them off your skin. Be aware of the type of mosquito repellent used around dogs.

  • DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide): DEET is an ingredient often found in mosquito repellents for humans. It can cause skin irritation, vomiting, and seizures in dogs if ingested or absorbed through the skin.
  • Citronella: Citronella is a natural, plant-based repellent commonly used in candles and torches. While it is effective at repelling insects, it is toxic to pets and can cause a rash with topical exposure. Ingesting large amounts of the plant or oil can result in vomiting, weakness, lethargy, and hypothermia.
  • Essential oils: These oils have varying toxicity levels and can cause numerous symptoms. Exposure to certain oils can lead to stomach aches, liver damage, and neurological problems.

What to do if Your Dog is Exposed to Toxic Mosquito Repellents

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It is essential to use mosquito repellents specifically formulated for dogs and follow the instructions carefully. If you are still unsure whether a product is safe for your dog, consult your veterinarian before using it.

If you suspect that your dog has been exposed to any of the above mosquito repellents, seek veterinary attention immediately. Symptoms of toxicity may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

FAQ: Mosquito Bites and Dogs

Can A Dog Give You Heartworms?

No, infected dogs cannot give you heartworms. Heartworms can only be transmitted through mosquito bites. Since humans are not natural hosts, the larvae usually die before reaching adulthood.

Can They Treat Heartworms in Dogs?

Yes. Treating a heartworm infection in dogs is done through a series of injections spread over a few months, but it can be costly, dangerous, and lead to complications like life-threatening blood clots for the dog. During heartworm treatment, numerous vet visits, blood tests, x-rays, hospitalizations, and injections are needed. Prevention is a better option.

Can Dogs Catch the Zika Virus From Mosquitoes?

Dogs cannot contract the Zika virus from mosquitoes. The virus is mainly transmitted through bites from infected mosquitoes, and there is no evidence that dogs can contract or carry the disease.

Tell Mosquitoes to Buzz Off

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For more information on protecting your dog from mosquito bites and the diseases they can carry, consult your veterinarian. Preventive measures and monitoring your dog’s health can help ensure that your furry friend stays healthy and happy. 

For professional treatment for your mosquito problems, Pest Gnome connects you to the best pest control experts in your area.

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Raven Wisdom

Raven Wisdom is a writer with a passion for pest control, gardening, sustainable living, and making a positive impact in the world. When she's not defending her garden from critters in the wilds of West Texas, Raven can be found writing, wrangling two kids in a neurodivergent family, and supporting her local animal rescues.