With the weather getting warmer, we may find ourselves looking forward to fun outdoor activities such as barbecuing with friends, weekends camping, or spending sunny days lounging by the pool. Something not so fun that may also be on our minds as the heat approaches, though, are mosquitoes — those pesky insects that like to wreak havoc. Did you know mosquitoes are not only a nuisance for humans, but can be especially troublesome for our pets as well? POPSUGAR tapped two vets to help learn more about exactly how mosquitoes can affect dogs and what pet owners can do about it.
How Can I Tell If My Dog Has a Mosquito Bite?
As it turns out, dogs, just like humans, can get mosquito bites, and many of the symptoms these bites produce are similar to what we may experience as humans. "The bite, just like in people, can cause swelling, redness, and hives," explained Laura Robinson, DVM, and veterinary advisor to Pawp. Dr. Robinson also pointed out that owners may not notice anything at all, especially if their dog has a longer coat. "Rarely, [mosquito bites] may cause more severe allergic reactions," Dr. Robinson added.
Can Mosquito Bites Cause Any Harm to Dogs?
Unfortunately, mosquito bites not only have the potential to cause discomfort through itchy, swollen spots, but can also threaten a dog's health. For instance, mosquitoes can carry heartworm disease. "[Mosquitoes] can transmit a potentially fatal disease called heartworm disease," shared Michelle Lugones, DVM, veterinarian at Best Friends Animal Society. Dr. Lugones explained that heartworms are "parasitic worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels" and can cause major health issues such as heart failure, as well as damage to your pet's organs. "Heartworm is very common in humid climates, like in the Southeast, but possible anywhere in America," added Dr. Robinson.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Mosquito Bites?
When it comes to protecting your pet from mosquito bites, it is important to take a two-pronged approach — you want to prevent them from getting bitten by mosquitoes and want to make sure you are keeping them safe from heartworm disease, too. Firstly, Dr. Robinson suggested that dog owners should try to avoid being outside with their pet when mosquitoes are most active — which is usually during dusk and dawn. "[You can also] repel mosquitoes in your yard with pet-safe mosquito repellents and check entrances to your home [to make sure] they are secure and that screens don't have tears or rips," said Dr. Robinson.
Secondly, dog owners should look into a heartworm preventative with the help of their personal vet, as preventing heartworm is much easier than treating the potentially fatal disease. "Your family veterinarian can advise you on which are the best products for your dog and how to go about getting your dog started on preventatives," advised Dr. Lugones. Dr. Lugones also pointed out that it is very important "to make sure the product is designed for dogs, that it's a reliable brand, and that you obtain it from a trustworthy source, such as a veterinary hospital."