Are you looking to learn about mosquitoes and your favorite pooch?
Well then, you’re in the right place!
In this guide you’ll learn:
- Do mosquitoes bite dogs?
- Why do mosquitoes bite dogs?
- How can you tell if your dog was bitten by a mosquito?
- What does a mosquito bite look like on a dog?
- Best mosquito bite treatment for a dog?
Let’s start with the obvious. Yes, mosquitoes bite dogs. They bite them a lot actually, but because your doggy best friend can’t talk, they can’t tell you about it or complain about the itching. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage compared to people and could subject them to needless suffering until you finally figure out that something is wrong with them.
Dogs have more hair than we do but there are plenty of areas on their bodies and heads where the hair is thin enough that mosquitoes can reach the skin. Small dogs with thin hair may be susceptible all over their body. Dogs such as German Pointers, Basset Hounds, Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs, Dalmatians, and Doberman Pinschers are all breeds with short hair that can be easily bitten anywhere on their body.
Mosquitoes are vectors (a fancy word meaning they carry diseases without catching themselves) for things like malaria, Zika, dengue, yellow fever, Rift-Valley fever, and West Nile. In addition, mosquitoes are also vectors for diseases that are specific to dogs, such as heartworms.
We’re going to cover why mosquitoes bite dogs, how to tell if your dog was bitten and what the bite marks look like, and what to do about it. We’ll take a look at not only how to treat your four-legged pal, but also how to use some preventative measures to keep them from getting bitten in the first place.
There’s a lot of information to cover, so let’s get started!
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table of Contents
Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, tell us that mosquitoes are drawn to dogs for the same reasons they’re drawn to people.
- Mosquitoes have receptors in something called the maxillary palp that can detect carbon dioxide from our breath as well as skin odors, worn clothing, smelly socks, and other sweat-stained garments. Mosquitoes are genetically programmed to be attracted to these odors and body heat. Dogs exhale carbon dioxide, have smelly skin odors, and body heat the same as we do, so mosquitoes are drawn to them as well.
- Male mosquitoes exist only to fertilize the females then die. During their short 3-4 day lifespan after they mature, the only things they eat are sweet liquids such as nectar, sugar water, and juices from sweet or rotting fruits. They mate once then curl up and die.
- The female needs the same foods at the male in order to stay healthy, with one important exception. Nectar and such keep them alive but they need lots of protein to produce their eggs, protein they get by drinking blood from mammals. This is where their Dracula habits come into play.
- Female mosquitoes home in on exhaled carbon dioxide and body heat. Your nose and mouth are very close to your ears, which is why you often hear mosquitoes buzzing around your head. Your ears are naked to the air, radiating a lot of heat. Dog’s ears have very little hair on the inside so mosquitoes buzzing around their heads will be drawn to their ears, land and bite them.
- Additionally, and this is something you need to be aware of, dogs have very little hair around their groin area compared to the rest of their body, making that area vulnerable as well.
How Can You Tell if Your Dog Was Bitten by a Mosquito?
Your dog may display certain symptoms if they sustain mosquito bites. Be on the lookout for:
- Scratching when you know they don’t have any fleas
- Continuously rubbing their nose and ears against the ground or carpet
- Red welts like the ones you get when you’ve been bitten by a mosquito
These are sure signs you need to give your pet some relief from the pain and itching. If it goes further though, and they get sick from a mosquito-borne illness, they’ll display other symptoms and behaviors. Be on the lookout for:
- Constant coughing
- Trouble breathing
- Lack of energy
- Refusal to play or run
- No appetite or a sudden, unexplained weight loss
If your dog has mosquito bites and displays any of these symptoms, take them to the vet right away. By the time you’re able to spot the symptoms in your pet, the disease is already rather advanced. They need immediate treatment.
Whatever you do, don’t use human insect repellents on dogs.
Their metabolism is different than ours and chemicals that are harmless to us can be toxic to them. Things like Deep Woods Off are particularly harmful to dogs. Don’t use them on Fido.
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What Does a Mosquito Bite Look Like on a Dog?
Mosquito bites on dogs look exactly the same as mosquito bites on people, small red welts. If it is the middle of winter and you haven’t seen any mosquitoes for weeks but your dog has red welts in their ears, around their nose and mouth, and groin area, it’s very unlikely to be mosquito bites. It might be bed bugs or something else equally unpleasant, but not mosquitoes.
On the other hand, if you’re constantly swatting at mosquitoes every time you go outside and your dog has red welts and is always scratching, yeah, it’s probably mosquito bites. If that’s the case, rest assured, your canine companion is just as miserable as you would be in that situation.
Best Mosquito Bite Treatment for a Dog?
Whatever you do, don’t use human insect repellents on dogs. Their metabolism is different than ours and chemicals that are harmless to us can be toxic to them. Things like Deep Woods Off are particularly harmful to dogs. Don’t use them on Fido.
- Use some alternative treatments that won’t harm your furry friends. There are plenty of anti-bacterial creams that are formulated just for dogs. Use small dabs of cream and gently rub them in with your fingers. Rover may object the first time or two you do this, but once they realize the cream is soothing the itching and burning you shouldn’t have any more problems putting it on them.
- Another treatment for your dogs is to use essential oils on the bites. Essential oils are a natural treatment that won’t hurt your dog. You can use tree tea oil, lavender oils, and lemon eucalyptus oils to treat mosquito bites on both you and your pets. These oils soothe the itching and help keep the mosquitoes away too. Apply the essential oils the same way as you apply the anti-bacterial creams.
- A routine preventative measure for your dog is only to walk them in the early morning before the mosquitoes become active or in the late afternoon when it’s too hot for them. Mosquitoes don’t like the cool morning hours and they have trouble shedding heat during the hottest part of the day, so they’re not as active during those times.
Preventative Mosquito Treatments
Mosquitoes only lay their eggs in standing water. Their larva feed on the algae and bacteria that live in stagnant water. Running water doesn’t have the right kind of either and therefore mosquitoes can’t survive in it. Get rid of every single source of standing water on your property. Clean out the gutters, empty any excess moisture from flower pots, and squeegee away any puddles on your patio, sidewalks, and driveway. Don’t even leave a water bowl outside for your dogs. Mosquitoes can easily lay their eggs in the water dish, hatch, and mature in it in a couple of days.
- If you’ve got pools of standing water you can’t get rid of, such as a koi pond, use some Mosquito Dunks in the water. They’re a doughnut-shaped pesticide that slowly dissolves in the water and kills mosquito larva. They’re not harmful to pets, children, or fish so you can safely use them in fish ponds. Each dunk will treat about 100 square feet of water.
- You can add some Microbe-Lift Mosquito Control Liquid to your standing water to kill the mosquito larva in the water as well as the algae and fungus they feed on. It’s a nice one-two punch.
- Keep your dog inside except when they need to go. Make sure all the screens, doors, and windows are tightly sealed so mosquitoes can’t get in. If you have a screened in back porch, carefully check the perimeter of all the screens to ensure there aren’t any gaps. Also, make sure there aren’t any rips in the screens themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What time of year are mosquitoes most active?
A. Mosquitoes are most active during the warm months of the years. However, due to their fast life cycle, a warm spell in January can provide enough time for them to hatch and become a nuisance in just a few days. Unless there is frost or snow on the ground, mosquitoes are a possibility.
Q. Are there any canine diseases besides heartworms that dogs can get from mosquitoes?
Q. How can I stop my dogs from scratching their ears raw?
A. Put a large cone collar, also known as a recovery collar, on them. They won’t be able to reach their ears – although they will certainly try. Use a soothing cream or essential oil in combination with the collar to relieve their pain.