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Do mosquitoes bite dogs? How to protect your pet this summer

What you'll want to know about dogs and mosquito bites

Dog scratches his head
Reddogs / Adobe Stock

Your dog will only be on Earth for a fraction of the time you’ll be here, so it’s important to take advantage of every moment of sunshine you have together. Whether you’re vegging on the patio chair or hiking somewhere new, having your pooch by your side makes summertime so much more magical.

But there are a few details about the warmer months that aren’t so nice, especially the bugs. Mosquitos are particularly annoying on those perfect summertime evenings, but do they bug your dog as much as they bug you? Do mosquitoes bite dogs? Are mosquitos dangerous to dogs? There are so many questions to ask!

Do mosquitoes bite dogs?

A Labrador Retriever puppy sits on a rocky beach and scratches their head with their paws
Rachel Claire / Pexels

If you spot your furry friend scratching while you’re deep in the woods, they just may be itching a mosquito bite. Although a fur coat may seem like it would protect against pesky mosquitos, the determined insects have a way of finding spots with the thinnest areas of fur. They may even nip at your dog’s nose or paws — anywhere where there’s no hair (try saying that five times fast).

A canine mosquito bite could look exactly like a mosquito bite on a human: a small pink welt that comes with a lot of itchiness and discomfort. Some bites will naturally swell more than others, but the bite itself is rarely concerning. If your dog repeatedly scratches or licks the bite, however, they could be at risk of causing a hot spot or even an infection in the small wound. Once you’re aware of a mosquito bite on your dog, it’s a smart idea to check on it once or twice a day until it heals.

Can dogs become sick from mosquito bites?

A brown puppy scratching behind the ear
Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke / Pixabay

Although the vast majority of mosquito bites are merely annoying, there are rare cases when a dog can become ill after being bitten. The biggest risk is heartworm, which is transmitted primarily through bites from infected mosquitos. Heartworm can be fatal if left untreated, but the good news is that it’s both treatable and preventable. This is why it’s essential to start your dog on heartworm prevention before spending time outdoors this summer.

Other mosquito-borne illnesses, such as West Nile virus, can also infect dogs. This disease is often severe and requires medical intervention, so don’t hesitate to visit the vet if your dog acts unusual following a trip outdoors.

In extremely rare cases, dogs have experienced allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in response to mosquito bites. This medical emergency requires immediate veterinary attention, but unfortunately, it can be difficult to predict.

How to prevent mosquito bites on your dog

Dog scratches their side while in the grass
Katrina_S / Pixabay

Step one when protecting your dog against mosquitos is actually protecting against heartworm. This is the most serious complication of mosquito bites, so prevention should be a priority. Additionally, you can try a number of natural mosquito repellants in your yard or even attach them to your dog’s leash — just not on your dog, please! Citronella, rosemary, and lemon essential oil are great options, but they can be dangerous if your dog gets into them.

The best thing you can do is eliminate any mosquito breeding grounds, like standing water, or keep your pet indoors when mosquitos are most active. You’ll be saving yourself the annoyance of bug bites, too!

Now that you’re more prepared to face mosquitos this summer, you can ensure that your furry friend stays safe and itch-free no matter where you’re headed. Happy tails!

Gabrielle LaFrank
Gabrielle LaFrank has written for sites such as Psych2Go, Elite Daily, and, currently, PawTracks. When she's not writing, you…
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