Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?
And is it a big deal if they do?
You hate the idea of your dog getting mosquito bites because those bumps are so itchy, and you don’t want your pup to be uncomfortable.
And since these pesky bugs seem to be out in full force during the summer months, you might be wondering: Do mosquitoes bite dogs?
We spoke with Kathryn Johnson, a veterinary nurse with DodoVet, who explained that dogs can and do get bitten by mosquitoes, as well as how these bites can impact their health.
Do mosquitoes bite dogs often?
Mosquitoes have plenty of opportunities to bite your dog, both inside and outside.
“Anytime a dog is outside, they are at a risk of getting bitten by mosquitoes,” Johnson told The Dodo. “And since some mosquitoes manage to slip through our doors and windows to the inside of our homes, dogs CAN get bitten inside your home too!”
Mosquito bites can be especially common if you live in an area with a lot of mosquitoes. And while mosquitoes live in most parts of the world, they tend to hang out in places with water nearby, since that’s where they lay their eggs.
What do mosquito bites on dogs look like?
Mosquito bites on dogs may look pretty familiar to you.
“Very similarly to people, their bites can be raised, red and itchy,” Johnson said. “You may notice some mild, localized swelling around the bite area. Both long-hair dogs and short-hair [dogs] are at risk.”
Are mosquito bites on dogs serious?
You might think that mosquito bites on dogs are mildly annoying, at best. But in reality, mosquito bites can result in more serious conditions than just an itchy bump.
Dogs actually get heartworm from mosquitoes if they’re bitten by an infected bug.
“This is a very serious, life-threatening parasite that our canine friends contract from mosquitoes,” Johnson said. “In fact, heartworms are transmitted SOLELY from mosquito bites.”
“Treatment is very costly and in extreme cases does require surgical intervention,” Johnson said. “Heartworms if left untreated cause irreversible damage to the lungs and heart of your canine companion.”
That’s why it’s so important to give your dog heartworm prevention medication, so he can be protected in case he ever gets bitten by an infected mosquito.
If your pup’s biting, licking and scratching a ton to relieve his itchy mosquito bites, he can end up with a hot spot, aka acute moist dermatitis.
“If you notice that your dog's mosquito bite has turned into what appears to be a moist sore, contact your veterinarian to be seen,” Johnson said. “Your dog may need to wear a cone and take some antibiotics until it is cleared up.”
West Nile virus
It’s also possible your dog could get West Nile virus (WNV) from a mosquito bite.
“This very serious disease can lead to depression, lack of appetite, circling, spasms, mobility problems, fever and even seizures,” Johnson said. “It is unlikely that your dog will contract this, but not impossible.”
If your dog does contract WNV, there isn’t any official treatment. Instead, you can work with your vet to treat your pup’s symptoms while the virus runs its course. The good news is most dogs eventually recover from WNV.
Can you use your bug spray on dogs?
According to Johnson, you should never use your own bug spray on your dog, because most repellents contain the ingredients picaridin and DEET, which are unsafe for pups.
“These can cause seizures, vomiting, incoordination, and irritation to the mouth and skin,” Johnson said. “Never let your dog lick off your mosquito repellent once applied to your skin.”
Is there mosquito repellent for dogs?
There’s mosquito repellent for dogs that’s formulated with pet-safe ingredients, but you should still always consult an expert before spraying anything on your BFF.
“Check with your veterinarian before applying anything to your dog's coat to prevent mosquito bites,” Johnson said.
You can also try a K9 Advantix II, which is a flea and tick preventative that also kills and repels mosquitoes.
But again, get your vet’s approval before trying out any of these products.
How to prevent mosquito bites on dogs
Repellent isn’t the only way to prevent your dog from getting mosquito bites. You can start by getting rid of any standing water in your yard, because mosquitoes lay their eggs in water. It also helps to be careful if you’re letting your pup outside during certain times of the day.
“Mosquitos are more active during early morning and evening hours. [If] you have a patio, you can install screens to create a mosquito safe haven for your family and pets,” Johnson said.
Mosquitoes are pretty impossible to avoid, and they’ll bite your dog if given the chance. And since mosquito bites can transmit some pretty nasty diseases, the best way to keep your pup safe is to take preventative measures (with your vet’s guidance, of course).
Want access to a vet 24/7? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone or text with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and have all your pet parent questions answered anytime, anywhere.Learn more here.