How Mosquitoes Can Damage Your Dog’s Health

A bite from a mosquito can be more than just an itchy annoyance to your dog.

Although your dog’s fur coat does offer a bit of protection, those pests can break through the fur to bite your dog, and the results can be harmful. These bites cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, and transmit dangerous diseases.

Mosquito-Borne Diseases

You’re probably aware of the mosquito-borne diseases that cause concern for humans. Every spring, we hear about what we can do to prevent the West Nile virus from spreading. For your dog, the most dangerous threat is heartworm, a disease that can only be transmitted to pets through mosquitoes.

When bitten, the heartworm larvae work their way through your dog’s blood stream into the right ventricle of the dog’s heart where they grow into adults and reproduce. Even worse, heartworm infestation may not produce any outward symptoms, but it has the potential to be fatal to dogs.

How to Tell if a Mosquito Has Bitten Your Dog

It’s unlikely that you spend every waking minute of your day with your dog, so it’s possible that he’ll be bitten by a mosquito during a time when you are not around. In cases like this, it’s important to be able to identify the signs of a mosquito bite.

The first sign your dog is likely to indicate after being bitten is scratching. Though it can be difficult, you should discourage your dog from scratching the bite because it could lead to further irritation or infection of the skin. The next symptom is swelling. In dogs that have an allergic reaction, this swelling can be so severe that it may impact your dog’s breathing or vision. In most cases, however, the irritation will be minor, appearing in the form of a bump at the site of the bite.

Treating Mosquito Bites

Just like when a mosquito bites you, it’ll be itchy for your dog. He’ll scratch it and make it worse, which can increase the risk for infection and the spread of disease.

First, wash the area with a mild soap and warm water, followed by a dog-friendly topical antibacterial cream. If the bite doesn’t improve over the next few days, you’ll need to take your dog to the veterinarian for an examination. Your vet may perform a heartworm blood test, as well as treating the bite itself.

Protecting Your Dog from Mosquitoes

Prevention is the best medicine. Protect your dog by reducing the number of mosquitoes around your property. Get rid of standing water in clogged gutters, bird baths, and rain barrels. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water. If there’s nowhere on your property to reproduce, then the mosquitoes will move on.

There are also a variety of dog-friendly topical mosquito repellents that can be sprayed right on your dog’s coat. Don’t use the same mosquito repellents you’d use on your skin because these chemicals can harm your dog. A natural option is lemon juice rubbed into your dog’s coat.

Another one that’s essential is a heartworm preventive. Your vet will perform a heartworm screening, and prescribe a pill to prevent heartworm infestations. Protecting your dog from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry is all about stopping them before they start to bite as well as protecting your dog when they bite.

Meet the Author: Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic is the Editor of Petguide.com, the flagship site to over 70 different pet communities, which offers pet parents a one-stop-info-shop for all things dog and cat related. Amy's been with PetGuide since the beginning, guided by the wisdom of her Shih Tzu mix and furry roommate, Oscar. Together, this pet power couple has their paw on the pulse of the pet industry, sniffing out trends, advice, news, tasty treat recipes and other tail-wagging stories.

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