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The essentials

  • Mosquitos pester dogs, too — Their bites can leave itchy, irritating welts that can drive your canine crazy. 
  • Prevention is key — Taking preventative steps can limit your furry friend’s exposure to mosquitoes (and their irritating bites!) 
  • Your vet can help  — If your dog’s already bit, no problem. Your vet can help you find the best treatment options available for your dog.

Mosquito bites are itchy, red welts that may be hot to the touch — and they can hide under your dog’s fur, causing irritation on the sensitive skin underneath. Beyond being annoying to your pet, these bites can be a source of further illness and complication, causing conditions like heartworm, West Nile virus, and encephalitis.  

Let’s dig into what you need to know to recognize the bites, treat them, and prevent them — keeping your pup itch-free all year long.

How to recognize mosquito bites on dogs

Mosquitoes can fly in and bother your dog without you knowing,  often leaving itchy, red bites behind. Here are a few signs to watch for if you believe that mosquito bites could be a problem for your pet: 

  • Persistent itching: Much like humans, dogs will feel persistent itching that won’t go away around the site of the bite. 
  • Skin twitching: Your pet’s skin might seem to contract or “twitch” due to the itchiness at the bite site. 
  • Red, raised bumps: You might notice red, raised welts on your pet’s skin depending on when your pet was bitten. If these bites become hot to the touch, 

👉 Any dog that’s exposed to hotter temperatures (like in the summer months), standing water, grassy yards, or moist air can be affected by mosquito bites. Additionally, mosquitoes may be more present around us in the early mornings and early evenings — meaning that walks to the park around this time may not be worth it for you and your pal. 

Prevention through mosquito control measures and topical products is often key to controlling the risk for your pet. We’ll show you how a bit further on in this post!

Dangers and complications of mosquito bites on dogs

Mosquito bites are more than just annoying for your pup. They can cause allergic reactions, heartworms (and the creation of heartworm offspring), and other serious diseases (such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Zika virus, and more.) 

Knowing the dangers of mosquito bites is the first step to creating a preventative plan to limit your dog’s exposure. Many pet parents work with veterinarians to create a personalized prevention plan for their pet — often using a holistic strategy that includes on-body prevention wear, prevention products around the yard or home (such as pet-safe bug candles), and other options.

Treating mosquito bites in dogs

Many pet owners feel that the best way to address the serious risks that bites can cause is effective mosquito repellant ahead of time — but sometimes, hungry mosquitoes can beat us to the punch, leaving animals with painful and itchy insect bites. Treating mosquito bites as soon as you can can help your furry friend to feel better, faster.

Here are some options if your pet is itching this mosquito season.

  • Topical pet-safe itch cream: Itchy bites can lead to irritated, raw, and weeping skin. Treating your pet’s itches with pet-safe medical treatment options can be a helpful way to soothe them quickly. Many products work to reduce inflammation, as the irritants found in mosquito saliva can cause regional swelling. Always ask your vet before trying steroid-based solutions or preventative medication on your pet’s sensitive skin.
  • Cold compresses: Applying cold packs to your dog’s itchy spots can help to soothe the skin and stop the itching. This is especially effective if you notice swelling around the bite site.
  • Coconut oil: This form of treatment is considered natural and safe for your dog, offering antibiotic and antiviral properties that can help stop the formation of bacterial infections or viral issues. Just be sure not to put too much, as high levels of ingestion can lead to runny poops and GI upset. 

⚠️ If your pet is showing signs of distress, difficulty breathing, serious diseases, anaphylactic shock, lethargy, or any other life-threatening conditions, please take them to the vet as quickly as you can. They may be experiencing the effects of mosquito-borne diseases that can be a serious threat to their health.

Preventing mosquito bites in dogs

You’ve probably heard the saying that prevention is the best medicine — and it’s true! Here are some of the best preventative measures you can use to keep your dog free of mosquito and common bug bites all year long. 

  • Use dog-safe insect repellants: There are plenty of options on the market that use pet-safe essential oils and other compounds to keep your dog itch-free. Be sure to ask your vet for any personalized recommendations for effective products that are dog-safe. 
  • Get your timing right: Timing your walks for less-mosquito-prone times can be the key to limiting your pup’s exposure 
  • Create mosquito-free “zones”: Your yard should be a safe place for your dog to run. Spray your yard down with pet-safe bug sprays or place dog-safe mosquito products in the common areas, such as bug zappers, dog-safe repellant candles, and bug tape. 

Tips to minimize mosquitoes in your yard

Beyond the tips above, there are a few dog-friendly DIY mosquito control solutions you can try in your yard this year: 

  • Apple cider vinegar spray: Diluting this vinegar and water together can make a pet-safe, mosquito-repelling spray that you can use freely around the yard. Try to spray high up to reduce the chances of excessive ingestion in your pet. 
  • Rosemary bushes: Planting rosemary and other dog-safe plants can be a great pet-friendly way to reduce mosquitoes in your yard. It’s safe for your pet in smaller quantities and can be potted or placed out of reach — letting it do its job worry-free. 
  • Bubble blowers: While it sounds different, bubbles are very effective for mosquito protection purposes. Investing in a cheap blower from your local box store and letting it run out of reach as your pet plays can be a cost-effective solution for many pet parents. 

Feel free to experiment to determine what works best for your pet and home setup. Any combination of these techniques is effective, pet-safe, and budget-friendly.

Frequently asked questions

How do you treat mosquito bites on dogs? 

Mosquito bites on dogs, if left untreated, can lead to infection, illness, and discomfort. Many vets may choose to recommend dog-safe topical ointment to reduce itching and minimize risk of infection, attempting to make a barrier over the bite or wound. Your dog may need a cone to minimize biting or itching depending on the severity of the bite. Severe cases or symptoms of illness (like a heartworm infection) require veterinary intervention. 

What does a mosquito bite look like on a dog? 

Dog mosquito bites look much like human mosquito bites. They are usually red, slightly swollen, and feel irritated to the touch. They may also feel hot to the touch if your dog is itching it frequently, or if it is becoming infected. If you notice a “red spread,” weeping from the bite site or heat when you touch the bite, be sure to book into the vet. This could signal infection. 

What happens if a dog gets bit by a mosquito? 

Often, nothing. While mosquitoes can transmit illness via their bites, this is fairly rare. Managing your dog’s care after the bite should be the top priority. Applying vet-approved topical ointments, and keeping your dog from itching can help their bites to heal quicker. You also might want to switch up your schedule to avoid future bites, where possible (i.e., staying inside around dawn and dusk), and use dog-safe mosquito repellant to lower your chances. 

How long do mosquito bites last on dogs? 

Mosquito bites can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on how often it is being itched and irritated. Keeping your dog from scratching can hasten the healing process, as can vet-approved steroid creams and anti-itch ointment.