Are you trying to find out if mosquitoes bite dogs, and what to do about it if they do?
Well then, you're in the right place!
In this guide you'll learn:
- How (and why) Mosquitoes Bite Dogs
- Symptoms And Related Infections Caused by Mosquito Bites In Your Dog
- Preventing Mosquito Bites on Dogs
Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?
First things first; yes, mosquitoes can bite dogs. There's more to it than that, of course.
Mosquitoes are known vectors for all sorts of deadly diseases for people – Zika, West Nile, dengue, and malaria, to name just a few. But mosquitoes also carry a number of diseases that are harmful to your dogs, most common of which is heartworms.
Since dogs can't talk, it's impossible for them to tell you they've been bitten. Nonetheless, there are some tell-tale signs you can look for to determine if they've been on the receiving end of a mosquito bite.
We'll also cover some of the more common breeding grounds for mosquitoes to enable you to take preventative measures to stop them before they get started, then we'll top it off with some ways to keep them from biting Fido.
There's a lot of information to cover, so let's get started!
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How Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?
Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, advises people not to assume dogs are safe from mosquito bites. Just because your dog has a thick coat of hair doesn't mean they're immune from being bitten.
Even if your pet is an inside pet they're not safe. After all, mosquitoes get inside people's houses all the time – through torn screen windows, flying in when you open the door, through doors or windows that are left open by children (leading to the well-known, “Were you raised in a barn?” routine).
Mosquitoes can, and do, bite dogs inside their ears, on their nose, and on the pads of their feet. These are all areas where their hair is thin or nonexistent.
Short haired dogs could be vulnerable all over their body. Additionally, many dogs have scant or thin hair protection around their genital areas.
Mosquitoes are drawn to us by following the scent of the carbon dioxide we exhale. There are receptors in the mosquito’s maxillary palp that can detect not only CO2 but skin odors as well.
Well, dogs exhale carbon dioxide and have skin odors the same as we do, so it makes sense that mosquitoes would be drawn to them as well. Mosquitoes can find ankles and other exposed skin on us. They can do the same thing on your dog.
Once they land on exposed skin on your dog they bite them the same way they bite us. Granted, dogs don't have as much exposed skin as we do, but they can still be bitten.
Here's a video that will give you tips in keeping mosquitoes off your dogs.
What Are The Possible Infections Caused by Mosquitoes?
The most common disease carried and transmitted by mosquitoes is heartworm disease. It is caused by what is called a “filarial nematode”, a large thread-like round worm named Dirofilaria immitis.
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They're known by their common name, heartworms because the adults live in right ventricle of the heart and nearby blood vessels. Thousands of dogs die each year from lung, heart, or circulatory problems brought on by heartworm disease.
Heartworm disease occurs worldwide in every climate except the far northern extremes where mosquitoes can't survive. In America, it was restricted to the southern and east coast regions until the late 1960s. Now, however, it has been reported in dogs in all fifty states.
Obviously, the danger of infection is the greatest during the warm months when mosquitoes are most active, but with many buildings being heated 24/7, and possessing numerous damp, dank areas where mosquitoes can live and breed, heartworm infection in dogs has to be regarded as a year-round threat.
Southern areas such as the Gulf Coast states and Florida also harbor active mosquitoes throughout the entire year.
There are other dangers to dog beside just heartworm disease, but that's the main one. If your dog suddenly becomes ill, the odds are it's a heartworm disease.
What Are The Mosquito Bite Symptoms in Your Dog?
The faster you can get your dog to a qualified veterinarian, the better their chance of making a full recovery. But obviously, dogs can't talk.
They can't tell you they've been bitten by mosquitoes. Therefore you'll have to be observant enough to pay attention to small, repetitive behaviors that are symptomatic of mosquito bites.
Some of these behaviors are:
- Constant scratching when they don't have fleas
- Rubbing ears or nose against a rough surface
- Red welts similar to mosquito bites in humans
Systemic illness from mosquito-borne parasite infection can lead to your dog displaying disease symptoms such as:
- Respiratory difficulty
- Lethargy or depression
- Intolerance to exercise
- Lack of appetite or weight loss
Once you've detected a pattern of behavior in your dog that matches these symptoms, you need to take them into the vet for immediate treatment.
It stands to reason that the more of these behaviors your dog exhibits, the further along they are with the disease. Don't try to treat them yourself. Get them to the vet.
What Are The Mosquito Breeding Grounds?
Depending on your dog and how far along they are, taking them to the vet can be expensive. It's better, and cheaper, to prevent mosquitoes from biting your dog in the first place.
You know the old saying, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So then, let's look at some prevention measures.
Mosquitoes like water. They breed in stale, stagnant water such as wading pools, clogged gutters (a good reason to clean them out!), bird baths, old tires, and so forth. Any area where water can collect and stand still is potentially a mosquito nursery.
Mosquitoes have four different stages to their life cycle and the first three all live in stagnant water. Only the fourth stage lives outside of water, therefore getting rid of stale water on your property will go a long way toward protecting you and your pets.
Below are some areas of concern that need to be addressed:
- Puddles of standing water around your house
- Animal water bowls or troughs – they should be emptied once a day
- Bird bath s – empty them every day or ensure they have running water
- Ornamental ponds – make sure they have running water
- Untreated swimming pools are an open invitation for mosquitoes
- Seepage from a septic tank will draw mosquitoes overnight
- Water pooling in tarp cover is a perfect mosquito breeding ground
- Water pooling in a driveway pothole, particularly if the water stays more than a day or two
How Can You Get Rid of Mosquitoes?
Mosquitoes are nearly as allergic to running water as they are fond of standing water. Running water presents physical dangers to their eggs and larva as well as preventing the growth of the algae they need to feed on.
But a tiny incoming trickle of water at one end of a pond and a small outlet at the other isn't enough running water to stop them. For the purposes of mosquito prevention, in order to be considered “running water”, all the water in a pond or birdbath should be completely turned over at least once an hour.
Examine all the areas listed above to determine if they fit our definition of running water or not. If they don't, get rid of the water or find a way to recirculate it so it does meet the definition.
Don't limit yourself to those areas. There could be dozens, perhaps hundreds, of areas around your house we didn't mention. Put on your Sherlock Holmes deerstalker cap and find them – all of them.
If you've already got standing ponds or other bodies of water you can't empty for some reason, don't despair. There are still plenty of ways to keep the mosquitoes from getting to your dog(s).
These are usually donut shaped briquettes of larvicide that as placed in water. Each one can control 100 square feet of water for up to 30 days. You can safely use them in fish ponds too. They're even safe to put in animal water troughs.
Microbe Lift Mosquito Control Liquid kills the larva as well as the fungus they feed on. Mineral oil, vegetable oil, or Neem oil on top of the water will smother the larva.
How Can You Prevent Mosquitoes From Biting Your Dog(s)?
The last stage is to keep mosquitoes from biting your dogs. There is a Do and a Don't you need to follow.
Human Insect Repellents
Insecticides like Deep Woods Off have chemicals in them such as DEET that is harmful to pets. It can cause vomiting, seizures, and skin irritation when it gets on dogs. Keep it away from them.
Additionally, and this may seem too obvious to mention, don't walk your dog during peak mosquito activity in the day. The act of walking won't be nearly enough to keep the mosquitoes off.
Only walk your dog early in the morning when it's cool before the sun comes up or in the late afternoon when it's too hot for mosquitoes to be active.
Using essential oils will help keep mosquitoes away from your dogs. Lemon Eucalyptus, Tea tree oil, and Lavender are some essential oils that will repel mosquitoes and are safe to use on dogs.
The Lemon Eucalyptus can be lightly sprayed on your dog's neck and shoulders or lightly dabbed in their ears and around their muzzle. The same thing can be done with Lavender or Tea tree oil.
When using the Tea tree oil, just mix 1 tsp of it with 1 cup of water. Mix it well and pour it into a spray bottle. Keep some of it aside to dab onto your dogs.
Geranium oil and soybean oil can achieve the same effect when they're mixed together. Again, pour some into a spray bottle while keeping some aside dabbing.
There are Eucalyptus oils that are ready to use that comes in pump spray bottles. There is also an all-purpose essential oil spray that works to prevent fleas and ticks as well as mosquitoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What time of year do mosquito populations thrive?
Unfortunately, mosquitoes can live all year long. They can reproduce very quickly, emerging to breed even during very short periods of warm, moist weather.
A warm spell in January can result in a sudden explosion of mosquitoes in the middle of winter.
Can dogs contract any diseases from mosquitoes besides heartworm disease?
Yes, they can become infected by West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.
However, all three of these diseases are extremely rare in dogs so you probably don't have to worry about them.
How do I stop my dog(s) from scratching mosquito bites?
There are antibacterial creams available for dogs which will help relieve the burning and itching for them the same way creams for people help us. Using the tip of your finger, apply the cream gently to the bite marks on your dogs.
Final Thoughts On Mosquitoes And Dogs
We've already established the thought that even our furry best friends can get bitten by these tiny blood suckers. And it's a fact.
Although this seems to be a small problem, it can easily spiral out of control and into a more serious issue. The aforementioned information can help you save your dog(s) from mosquitoes and the accompanying diseases that their bites drag along.