Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?

It’s mosquito season and you take precautions to protect yourself. But have you thought about your dog?

You know about ticks and fleas, but mosquitoes? They do bite dogs, and they can transmit dangerous diseases.

Here are some ways to keep your dog as safe as possible this summer.

Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?

As dogs (or other pets such as cats and horses) produce carbon dioxide, they attract mosquitoes.

Female mosquitoes bite dogs for the same reasons they bite humans or other animals. To get a blood meal that will provide the nutrition they need to develop their eggs.

Can Mosquitoes Bite Through Dog Fur?

Although fur does give your dog some protection, there are always areas with less fur, the nose, ears, groin, or belly. Basically, the shorter the fur the greater the risk of bites. Mosquitoes manage to bite through clothes so thin fur areas won’t be a problem.

What Happens After A Mosquito Bites Your Dog?

Dogs will experience the same sort of itching and irritation as humans. Mosquito bites can cause swelling and redness, but the bite itself is unlikely to cause lasting harm. Normally the bites will heal as with humans.

How Can You Know If Your Dog Has Been Bitten?

If your dog has been bitten, you may see raised bumps on the skin. Most of all, you will notice your dog rubbing or scratching where they have been bitten. You will probably also have noticed a presence of mosquitoes in the days before your dog was bitten.

What Diseases Can Mosquitoes Transmit To Dogs?

Heartworm Disease

The most common disease your dog may get from mosquitoes is dog heartworm disease. It is a serious disease that can sometimes be fatal. The disease is caused by worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

You can learn about the life cycle of heartworm and the symptoms of the disease in the video below.

Heartworm disease explained

West Nile Virus

Although West Nile Virus is more often associated with, humans your dog can contract this disease. Your dog can be infected when a mosquito has a blood meal.

The virus is injected into your dog and then multiplies. Your dog may show clinical signs, luckily most infections are inapparent or mild.

How Can You Protect Your Dog?

Preventive Medicines

There are preventive medicines that can protect your dog and these should be a high priority if you are in a high-risk area. If you’re not already treating your dog and depending on the threat in your local area, you should discuss this with your vet. Prevention is the best course of action!

Mosquito Elimination

Mosquitoes are the vector for heartworm disease. So, the best protection is to eliminate or reduce the number of these vectors.

The first course of action is to eliminate any standing water wherever possible. These are the breeding grounds of mosquitoes. If everyone in your local community takes part, this can be very successful. Any water that can’t be emptied and renewed at least weekly should either be covered tightly, to stop mosquitoes from laying eggs or treated with a larvicide such as bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis to stop the mosquitoes from developing into adults.

Once you have removed the standing water you can attack the adult mosquitoes. This can be done with the application of insecticides or fogs. Hand-held or backpack ultra-low volume foggers can be used. They produce very fine droplets that stay in the air, killing flying mosquitoes on contact. 

Another way of reducing the adult mosquito population is by using mosquito traps. They work by emitting carbon dioxide and using other attractants to attire mosquitoes into the trap. They can help to reduce mosquito numbers, but an effective trap can be expensive to purchase. For a cheaper trap, you could check out Biogents.

These methods of reducing the mosquito population will benefit you, your dog, and the local community.

Dog safe repellents and ectoparasiticides

Some repellents are very effective in preventing mosquito bites on dogs. However, many repellents, lotions, or plants used by humans may be dangerous for dogs, so don’t use them. Ask your vet for advice.

Ectoparasiticides work by killing the mosquito after it has bitten the dog. Thus they won’t be able to transmit the disease to another dog. And as the female mosquito dies, she won’t be able to lay any new eggs. Resulting in a very small reduction in the mosquito population.

Limit outdoor activities

You can also reduce the exposure of your dog to mosquitoes by limiting outdoor activities when the mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. If you’re walking your dog, avoid any known mosquito habitats.

Create a breeze

If you are outside in a reduced space, using a fan to create a breeze can give some protection to you and your dog. Mosquitoes aren’t very strong fliers, so they have difficulty approaching you with a large fan blowing. Another reason this may keep the mosquitoes away is that it disperses the carbon dioxide that you and your pet exhale. The mosquitoes use the CO2 to home in on you or your dog.

Mozzie proof your house

Don’t allow the mosquitoes into your house. Fix screens to doors and windows or repair existing screens

Insect repellent gear

You can buy insect-repelling clothes for your dog, made by the same companies that make insect repellent clothes for humans. Treated with permethrin, the gear will repel mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. There are different products available – dog beds, blankets, neck gaiters, bandanas, and super stylish T-shirts. This gear may help to keep mosquitoes away, but it doesn’t protect your dog where he risks getting most bites, on his snout and ears.

Whatever measures you take, it is likely your dog will get some mosquito bites. If your dog is bitten watch out for any unusual symptoms. If in doubt take your dog to see the vet.

Heartworm disease is dangerous and can kill your dog, so make sure your dog is protected.