Mosquito Bites on Dogs
Mosquitoes are an annoying pest known for feeding on the blood of humans. Not only do they cause irritating and itchy bites, they can also spread serious diseases. While mosquitoes seem to prefer biting humans, they will also bite other warm-blooded creatures.
Will Mosquitoes Bite Dogs?
Mosquito bites on dogs, although not as commonplace as flea or tick bites, are likely to occur.
As mosquitoes feed on humans, they will also bite dogs if given the opportunity. However, biting a dog is not as easy as biting a human so it’s not likely to be their first choice. Dogs, in general, are more protected with their thick coat, so it is harder for a mosquito to make contact with their skin. That said, mosquitoes have a way of finding and biting any exposed areas of skin, just as they do on a human.
The most common areas for a mosquito to bite a dog are around the nose, ears, and—sometimes—their underbelly. These spots have less fur, providing easier access for the mosquito.
What Do Mosquito Bites Look like on Dogs?
Mosquito bites may not be as easy to spot on a dog as they are on a human, because of their fur. Examining your dog for any inflamed or raised areas is important. Check any areas where they may be scratching. A mosquito bite on your dog will look very similar to that on a human.
The bite will cause irritation and inflammation, leaving a small round bump on the dog’s skin. The bump becomes hard and you may see a dot in the center. This is where the skin was broken by the mosquito’s bite.
As with a human, it is important to try and prevent the dog from scratching to prevent the bite from becoming infected. If you see the bite full of pus or the area is hot and swollen, an infection has probably developed.
Other Signs That a Dog May Have Been Bitten by a Mosquito
There are a number of signals to watch out for, which will help you to determine whether your dog has been bitten by a mosquito or not. Scratching, of course, is the most obvious. Your dog may also rub the bite against a wall, door or furniture, to try and relieve the itch. Try to stop your dog scratching or rubbing, to lessen the risk of infection occurring.
Some side effects may be more serious indicators of a mosquito-transmitted disease. Just as mosquitoes can spread nasty illnesses and diseases to humans, they can do the same to dogs.
The most common—and most dangerous—disease transmitted from a mosquito to a dog, is heartworm. Heartworms affect the dog’s respiratory system and can be fatal if left untreated. There is however, no way to identify heartworms just by looking at a bite mark. Blood tests must be carried out to confirm the diagnosis.
Ask your vet to check for heartworms if they show any of the following signs:
- Lethargy or difficulty exercising
- Difficulty breathing
Realistically, many of the above symptoms could be associated with other canine illnesses and diseases as well. If your dog is suffering from any of the above, it may or may not be heartworm, but I recommend taking them to a veterinarian to make sure. Be mindful that heartworm can take months to diagnose, so you will most likely not get an answer immediately.
There are specific areas of the United States known to have heartworm-carrying mosquitoes. Check with your local animal clinic if you are worried, to find out if you are living in one of those areas. The veterinary centers can help with selecting a heartworm prevention plan, to help keep your dog happy, safe and healthy.
Your dog should be tested for heartworms bi-annually, to make sure they are not already present. Heartworm preventive treatment needs to be given regularly throughout the year, in order to fully protect your precious pet.
Various types of treatment are available through your veterinarian, find the one that suits your pet the best. Unfortunately, there aren’t any effective “natural” treatments to prevent heartworms.
How to Treat Mosquito Bites on Dogs
Once you have identified a mosquito bite on a dog, there are several things you can do to treat it. Mosquito bites will only usually cause itching and irritation. Unless of course, they have passed on a disease, which may result in other symptoms, as previously discussed.
If your dog has been bitten but doesn’t show signs of having contracted heartworm or other diseases, here are a few options.
First of all, you can just leave the bite to recede without intervention but monitor your dog for changes in behavior. Your pet may be irritable and scratch for a few days, but the bite should clear up on its own.
While monitoring any bites on your dog’s body, be wary that increased rubbing and scratching can maximize the risk of breaking the skin and infection developing. In this case, it is sensible to clean the area frequently and apply a soothing cream or lotion. A cold compress may be equally effective, if your pooch will sit still long enough.
If the skin is broken, applying a mild antibacterial cream may help to fight any infection and prevent other complications from developing. If you suspect a mosquito bite has become infected on your dog, consult your vet before applying any stronger ointments.
Don’t automatically assume that the creams and lotions you have in your medicine cabinet can be used on your dog. Many chemicals can be extremely harmful for a dog, either if they are ingested or even if just applied to the skin. They can either be absorbed through the skin or your dog may lick the area after application.
However, if your pet has an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite, it is possible to administer Benadryl. The main ingredient, diphenhydramine, is safe for dogs.
Some essential oils can also be used to soothe any inflamed and itchy skin. Calming oils such as lavender can help to decrease irritation and promote a faster healing time. Take care with the use of essential oils, however, some are toxic to animals.
While you may be trying to help, remember that your dog's skin is different to yours. It is better to be cautious and seek a professional veterinary opinion, just to ensure that you don't worsen your dog's condition.
How to Prevent Mosquito Bites on Dogs
There are a number of things you can do to help prevent your dog from getting bitten by a mosquito. A crucial factor would be to try and limit their exposure to large numbers of mosquitoes. Take time to consider your usual walking routes to avoid any areas known to be their breeding grounds.
Also take measures at home to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house. If you have doors and windows open, make sure you have sufficient nets fitted to keep your home mosquito-free.
Mosquitoes will lay their eggs in standing fresh water. If you have areas of water around your house, such as water troughs, bird baths, etc., mosquitoes will most likely be thriving in these areas. Make sure you regularly change your dog's water. This will dispose of any mosquito eggs which may have been laid on it.
Furthermore, think about the times of day when mosquitoes are most active. Avoid taking your dog out for walks, or leaving them outside for too long, during early morning and in the evenings. Be vigilant—if you can see mosquitoes and feel them biting you, then they are also likely to be biting your dog.
When it comes to using mosquito repellents around dogs, proceed with caution. Insect repellents designed for humans are not usually safe for canines. Sprays containing DEET, for example, can cause severe reactions in dogs, including seizures. Ask your veterinarian for expert advice if you want your four-legged friend to have their own repellent.
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