Labrador dog in a field

In very rare cases, a dog may have an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite.

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How do you keep your dog safe from mosquitoes in summer?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Just like humans, dogs don't get a buzz out of mosquitoes, whose bites on your pet may not always be harmless.

Those pesky mosquitoes can be as bothersome to our pets as they are to humans. Your pet will find mosquito bites an itchy irritation, which can lead to chewing or scratching at the area. In some cases, this can lead to swelling or may even become infected. Yet most of the time, a mosquito bite will be relatively harmless and not cause a lasting problem.

An important exception to this is the involvement of the mosquito in transmission of heartworm. Although it’s not a problem in the UK, heartworm is found in other European countries and is a risk to your pet if they travel abroad. The heartworm larvae, known as microfilaria, are spread between dogs by mosquitoes. If you’re going to travel abroad with your pet, you should ensure that they are treated with suitable anti-parasitic medication from a vet.

How can I protect my dog from mosquito bites?

There are mosquito spray products that are designed specifically for use on dogs, and may be appropriate if your pet tends to react badly to the bites. Natural options include essential oil bug spray for dogs, but you should never use human products on them and you should take care with anything containing essential oils. Even though these products are natural, they can contain plant oils that are toxic to pets. If your pet is being bitten frequently, try to avoid areas near to standing water, particularly at dusk, which is when mosquitoes are most active.

What can be put on a dog for mosquito bites?

Avoid any topical treatments, unless advised to apply an ointment by a vet. These can lead to further irritation and itching. Medicated human products can also be toxic to your pet, particularly if your dog then licks them off their skin. If a dog’s mosquito bite is swelling, seek veterinary advice for a suitable treatment options.

Are plug-in mosquito repellents safe for pets?

These vary between brand and the insect repellent chemical that is used. If in doubt, check with a manufacturer whether they consider their product suitable for use in a household with pets, and always keep the products well out of your pet’s reach.

Are there dog-friendly mosquito-repellent plants?

Citronella is a plant that is very popular as a natural mosquito repellent, but it can be toxic to dogs and cats. Catnip, lavender and mint may be good options that should be reasonably safe to be grown in a household or garden with pets.

What are the dangers of mosquito bite for dogs?

The majority of mosquito bites should not cause a problem to your pet. In very rare cases, your dog may have an allergic reaction to the bite – but this is usually very mild. Yet more severe allergies can cause anaphylaxis, which results in symptoms including facial swelling, hives, drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea. If you notice these signs, contact a vet as an emergency.

Another danger of mosquito bites is the transmission of heartworm, but this is not a risk to UK dogs unless they travel abroad with you. Mosquito bites can also become infected, particularly if they are scratched or chewed at excessively.

What treatment is there for mosquito bites on dogs?

Mosquito bites should not require treatment unless they become infected or significantly swollen. If the bite leads to a lump that does not reduce in size over a few days, becomes red and hard, is hot to the touch or you can see puss, then book in for a vet appointment.

When should I talk to a vet?

The majority of mosquito bites should not cause an issue to your pet and may pass by unnoticed. Yet if the bite is causing significant irritation or you are concerned it may be infected, seek veterinary advice. Any case of anaphylaxis (an acute allergic reaction) is a medical emergency, and you should contact a vet immediately even outside of normal opening hours.

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