If you like spending time with your dog outdoors, you may wonder, do mosquitoes bite dogs? In this article, we will answer this question as well as discuss preventative measures that can help protect our pets from various other diseases and parasites.
Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?
So do mosquitoes bite dogs? Yes, dogs get mosquito bites. Just like us, a dog can be a prime target for mosquitoes. Mosquito bites cause itchy bumps or rashes that can be very annoying for dogs.
Aside from the very itchy bumps, mosquito bites pose various risks to your dog ranging from mild to serious. The good news is, there are ways we can protect our pets from getting bitten by mosquitoes.
How Harmful Are Mosquitoes to Dogs?
Unfortunately, dogs get mosquito bites. There are a lot of reasons why we should protect our dogs from mosquito bites. Here are some of the effects that a mosquito bite can have on dogs.
Mild Effects or Risks Caused by Mosquito Bites
Itchy Bumps or Welts
Mosquito bites on dogs cause bumps on their skin just like in humans. Mosquito bite bumps are small, raised, red welts that are quite itchy. These are caused by the body's reaction to the mosquito's saliva, which is injected into the skin during a bite.
Because the bumps from mosquito bites on dogs are itchy and uncomfortable, some dogs may scratch or lick them excessively, which can lead to skin irritation or infections.
Applying antibacterial cream to treat mosquito bites can help prevent infections. Natural treatments such as baking soda and water paste, oatmeal bath, calamine lotion, and ice or cold compress can soothe the itchy skin. However, it is best to consult your vet on what type of treatment to use.
Sometimes the area surrounding the mosquito bite can get swollen. This can cause pain and further discomfort to the dog. Depending on the severity of the swelling around the mosquito bite and how long it lasts, vet assistance may be needed.
Moderate Effects or Risks Caused by Mosquito Bites
Constant scratching, rubbing ears, and biting bumps caused by insects or mosquito bites can cause open wounds. These wounds could get easily infected by harmful bacteria and other pathogens. If a wound is potentially infected, the dog should be taken to the vet right away.
Canine Hot Spots
Canine hot spots, also known as pyotraumatic dermatitis, can be caused by a variety of factors. This includes insect bites, such as those from mosquitoes. Getting bitten by mosquitoes or other insects can cause irritation and itching, leading to the dog scratching or licking the affected area, which can cause further damage and infection.
Hot spots are characterized by red, swollen, oozing areas in the skin. Hot spots are painful and can get worse very quickly if left untreated. The dog’s fur around the area may need to be clipped to allow air to circulate and speed up the drying and healing process. Thick hair can make it harder to see how much a hot spot has grown in size or has spread to other areas.
It is best to take your dog to a vet if you notice a hot spot on your dog. Your vet can prescribe oral or topical treatment.
Severe Effects or Risks Caused by Mosquito Bites
Severe Allergic Reaction
One uncommon but possible effect of getting bit by a mosquito is an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions vary in their severity, from swelling of the area, and severe itching, to more serious reactions like anaphylactic shock.
Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe reaction to an allergen. It causes the airways to be narrow or blocked, making breathing extremely difficult.
Autoimmune Disease Flare-ups
In rare cases, a mosquito bite can trigger autoimmune disease flare-ups such as Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in dogs that are genetically susceptible to the illness.
According to VCA Animal Hospitals, “SLE is an immune-mediated disease in which a dog’s immune system begins to attack her own tissues.”
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening mosquito-borne parasite infection that affects dogs, cats, as well as other mammals. The illness is caused by a type of roundworm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted to dogs through mosquito bites, particularly from infected mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes pass heartworms that grow to about 12 inches long. These adult worms can live in the pet’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels of an infected dog.
Symptoms of heartworm infection in dogs can include coughing, respiratory difficulty, lethargy, fatigue, weight loss, and swollen belly. However, some dogs may not show any symptoms until the disease is advanced.
Fortunately, we can prevent heartworm disease with meds that are given every month or every 3 months. However, if a dog is already infected, heartworm treatment can be more complex and may include the use of several different drugs, as well as hospitalization and close monitoring by a veterinarian.
While treatment after getting heartworms is possible, it can still cause irreversible damage to the heart and lungs of a dog.
West Nile Virus
West Nile virus can affect dogs, although it is less common than in birds and horses. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Dogs can be infected with the virus when bitten by an infected mosquito. Infected dogs do not pose a risk to humans.
In severe cases, the virus can cause neurological symptoms such as seizures or paralysis. The best way to protect dogs from West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent made specifically for dogs and keeping them indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus in dogs, and the best course of action is to provide supportive care and monitor the dog's condition with the vet’s guidance.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is quite rare in dogs. It has only been reported to have occurred in puppies. This rare virus can be transmitted to a dog when bitten by an infected mosquito. It cannot be passed down from a dog to other dogs, or from dog to human.
The EEE virus can cause the brain tissue to swell. This can lead to convulsions, blindness, loss of coordination, irritability, etc. Other symptoms include Fever, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
5 Ways to Protect Dogs From Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Diseases that mosquitoes carry pose a frightening threat to the health of our pets and human family members. Fortunately, there are easy preventive measures we can take to keep our pets protected.
Flea, Tick, Heartworm, and Worm Treatments
Parasite-borne diseases can be life-threatening to our pets. Preventive medications that are administered monthly or every three months keep dogs protected from numerous parasites, including heartworms which are transmitted through mosquito bites.
These preventive medications kill the heartworm larvae in the dog’s bloodstream before they mature into disease-causing adults.
Talk to your vet about the best heartworm, intestinal worms, and flea preventive care for your dog. There are numerous brands available in the market to suit your dog’s needs.
Keep Surroundings Clean and Free From Standing Water
One can say that the life cycle of a mosquito starts with a bite. After a bloodmeal, female mosquitoes will lay their eggs in water. As such, keeping your backyard clean and free from standing or stagnant water is one way to prevent the mosquito population from multiplying in your home.
Replace the water in your dog’s water bowl regularly. You can also replace bird baths with ones that have a fountain to keep the water flowing and moving so it does not become standing water. This will prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water.
Avoid Going Outdoors From Dusk to Dawn
We recommend limiting outdoor activities during the dusk to dawn hours mosquitoes are most active during these hours. If you have to go outside with your dog for a few hours, you can use a dog-safe mosquito repellent to protect your dog from hungry mosquitoes.
When indoors, keep windows and doors closed, or make sure that screens are free from holes where mosquitoes can enter. In the summer months, fans can also help drive away mosquitoes from an area of the house.
Prevent mosquito bites by using mosquito repellents made specifically for dogs. They can be purchased from pet shops and vet clinics. Using dog-safe mosquito repellents ensures that your dog is not exposed to chemicals that can be toxic to dogs.
For this reason, we do not recommend using mosquito repellents made for humans on your dogs.
Aside from topical repellents, there are some commercially available products that can protect your home from mosquitoes. Bug spray, plug-in repellents, and others can be used as long as they are safe to be used in homes with pets.
Certain plants and essential oils are natural mosquito repellents. These can help deter mosquitoes from staying and breeding in your home.
The strong scent of citronella grass and citronella candles can help repel mosquitoes. The scent of lavender, mint, and rosemary can also be used for this purpose.
Yes, dogs get mosquito bites which may pose numerous threats to our dogs’ health. However, mosquito bites on dogs are not always a cause for panic. Many mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika virus and chikungunya can infect dogs but do not seem to cause any symptoms.
However, for your peace of mind, prevention is still the best way to go when it comes to heartworm disease and other serious conditions caused by mosquito bites.
Preventive medications are widely available and very easy to administer. Simply set up a schedule in your calendar to ensure that you are able to give your dog his meds on time. Pet products that repel mosquitoes can also be used whenever going outdoors, especially during seasons when mosquitoes are most active.
For new pet parents, we highly recommend finding a vet that you can easily go to or contact in case of emergencies. Vets are the best experts to guide you on the right preventive care and treatment for your dog.
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