Despite their furry coat, dogs aren’t invincible to mosquitoes. Since canines are warm-blooded, mosquitoes find them to be a convenient source of fresh blood. It could take its toll on your pet’s health as mosquito bites trigger itching, swelling, and even a severe allergic reaction. With this, it’s important that you know how to treat mosquito bites on dogs.
Aside from the treatment of the bites, prevention is also crucial. It’s because canines can acquire diseases from mosquito bites, much like humans do. One of these is heartworm disease and in rare cases, even the West Nile Virus.
So for this post, we share both treatment and preventive advice to help you handle mosquito bites on your dog. Just remember that this doesn’t replace the expertise of a veterinarian, especially if your dog is experiencing adverse symptoms.
Signs that your dog has mosquito bites
The symptoms of mosquito bites in dogs are fairly similar to other insect bites. Still, each dog may have a varying reaction, depending on its sensitivity level.
If you’re wondering, the following are the signs that your dog got bitten by a mosquito:
- Hives on the affected part
- Mild to moderate swelling
- Raised skin on the bite area
- In severe cases, respiratory distress and vomiting may occur
Overall, most cases of mosquito bites in dogs aren’t serious. Still, you should keep monitoring your pet as some dogs may have a more adverse reaction than others.
If your dog is exhibiting severe symptoms, I suggest you call its veterinarian. Although not very common, some dogs may suffer from allergic reactions that require veterinary attention.
How to treat mosquito bites on dogs
Mosquito bites in canines are fairly easy to address as long as your pet isn’t showing adverse reactions. Below, I discussed a few home remedies you can try to soothe your dog’s insect bites and prevent infection from setting in.
1. Give your dog an oatmeal bath
Once you confirm that your dog has mosquito bites, the best way to soothe its skin is to give it an oatmeal bath. The oatmeal content of this bath helps calm itching, and swelling, and even neutralize infection.
Aside from that, the oatmeal content serves as a protective barrier to the dog’s skin. As a versatile dog shampoo ingredient, oatmeal is also a powerful natural moisturizer.
Allow your dog to soak in an oatmeal bath in the tub. This way, the solution will be absorbed well into the bitten area. A warm bath is also a good idea to help your dog relax and to prevent shivering.
For oatmeal baths for your dog, you have two options: to use an oatmeal dog shampoo or concoct your own bath formula.
For canine oatmeal shampoos, there are many options in the market. Make sure that you choose trusted brands like Wahl, Paws & Pal, Burt’s Bees, Veterinary Formula, and so on.
If you prefer a homemade oatmeal bath to soothe your pet’s mosquito bite, the process remains easy. You just need to grind unflavored oatmeal, half a cup for large dogs, and a little less for smaller breeds.
Once you have the ground oatmeal, you just mix it with warm water in the tub. You can also add two tablespoons of olive oil into the mix. Other pet owners opt for a cup of high-fat milk to boost the effects of the oatmeal bath. Overall, this solution is safe, even if your dog licks or tries to consume the mixture.
You can give your dog an oatmeal bath once or twice a week until the mosquito bite irritation subsides.
2. Apply a cold compress to the bite area
If an oatmeal bath isn’t readily available, you can apply a cold compress to the mosquito bites of your dog. The cold temperature will help reduce swelling and itching temporarily.
When applying a cold compress, make sure that you place a towel against your dog’s skin first. This is to prevent ice burns and chilling.
If you don’t have a cold compress pack, you can use a cold bag of peas or corn kernels. It’s important that it conforms well to your dog’s body, so the cold temperature gets passed on quite well.
Overall, you can use a cold compress for the first one or two days. After that, you should stop as it may not have any beneficial effect anymore. Always consider cold compress only as a complementary remedy for mosquito bites on your pet.
3. Use a baking soda paste
Another effective remedy for easing the itchiness of your dog’s mosquito bite is baking soda paste. You basically need to mix baking soda with a small amount of water until you create a paste.
After that, you need to apply the baking soda to the mosquito bites of your dog as a spot treatment. Don’t worry because this is safe even if your dog licked a small amount. But to ensure that the remedy will be effective, we suggest putting your doggo in an Elizabethan collar.
Also, a baking soda paste is best used on mosquito bites located on your dog’s belly and other areas with less fur. It’s because it gets really messy when applied directly on the coat, especially for long-haired breeds.
4. Apply aloe vera gel to the mosquito bite
Organic aloe vera gel is also an effective remedy for mosquito bites in dogs. However, you should put your dog in an Elizabethan collar, so it doesn’t lick the gel off its skin. It’s because aloe vera can be toxic to canines when ingested orally.
When using aloe vera gel, you only need to apply a thin layer to cover the bites. This natural gel helps a lot in alleviating itching, irritation, and swelling. It also packs a punch of moisture and bacteria-fighting components.
5. Give your dog an antihistamine
Lastly, you can give an antihistamine to your dog as long as it’s safe and upon the advice of a veterinarian.
Antihistamines like Benadryl are safe for healthy dogs. It will help alleviate hives and allergy symptoms related to the mosquito bite.
The safe dosage is 1 mg of Benadryl for every 1 pound of your dog’s body weight. If your pooch has sensitivities, you can start with a smaller amount and then observe for any potential adverse reactions.
However, if your dog isn’t doing well, it’s best to contact a veterinarian instead. Your pooch might be experiencing a severe reaction from the mosquito bite, which can’t be managed with home remedies alone.
When should I bring my dog to the vet?
Most cases of mosquito bites in dogs are harmless. However, if your dog experiences the following symptoms, it might be best to bring it to the vet right away:
- Widespread hives
- Breathing difficulties
- Trembling and incoordination
These are signs of anaphylactic shock, which can be deadly in a matter of hours. At the vet’s clinic, your dog will be given intravenous fluids as well as medications to combat severe allergies. Some of these are corticosteroids, epinephrine, and atropine.
After that, your dog will be monitored within 24 to 48 hours. Most canines will be discharged within that period once the symptoms have subsided.
How to keep your dog safe from mosquito bites
Prevention is always the best cure for any health problem of a dog. Mosquito bites are fairly easy to ward off with the following life hacks:
1. Keep your dog clean
Mosquitoes detect potential food sources through the carbon dioxide the canine produces. But aside from that, these bloodsuckers can also pick up your dog’s stinky smell. This is why smelly and dirty dogs are more prone to mosquito bites than well-groomed ones.
Overall, you just need to do the basics: bathe your dog once a month and brush it daily. You can also use dry shampoo to augment grooming in between baths.
2. Use a dog-safe insect repellent
Dog-grade insect repellents are a great way to ward off nasty mosquitoes, so they won’t bite your dog. Remember that you should only use a repellent made specifically for canines. Those for humans may have toxic ingredients that could cause irritations on your pet.
Try to look for one with neem oil, soybean oil, geranium oil, eucalyptus oil, and thyme clove oil. Still, make sure that you consult your dog’s vet first before using any of these products.
3. Remove any harborage of mosquitoes
Mosquitoes thrive on your property because there’s standing water. It could be a water-filled pot in your garden, a puddle, and so on. Also, you should replace the water on your dog’s bowl daily, so it won’t become the harborage of mosquitoes.
Take note that mosquitoes will target not just your dog, but also you. It’s important to nip its source in the bud, so it won’t wreak havoc on your household.
4. Grow mosquito-repelling plants
Another way to protect your dog from mosquitoes is to grow plants that drive away the insects. Some of these are catnip, peppermint, lavender, and basil.
Basically, most aromatic flowering plants help in warding off mosquitoes as it masks the odor of your dog. However, you should grow these in areas your dog can’t access as some of these plants can be toxic to canines.
5. Get your dog’s heartworm treatment updated
Lastly, you should update your pet’s heartworm treatment to ensure that it won’t be infected with the parasite should an infected mosquito bite.
You can consult your dog’s veterinarian about the best solution to prevent mosquito-transmitted heartworm in dogs. Mostly, it would be an oral medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can mosquitoes bite dogs with thick fur?
A: Even thick-coated canines aren’t safe from nasty mosquito bites. While most of its body is safe from the bite, more exposed areas like the belly, paw, back of the legs, and face can still be bitten by these bloodsuckers. This is why you shouldn’t be complacent even if your dog has thick fur.
Q: Can mosquitoes hurt dogs?
A: While most mosquito bites don’t pose a serious health threat to dogs, they will still cause mild pain and discomfort. Also, dogs with sensitivity to insect bites may react harshly and even experience anaphylactic shock. Nevertheless, the latter is quite rare.
Q: Do dogs get red mosquito bite bumps?
A: Dogs don’t get the same red bump humans develop when bitten by a mosquito. In most cases, canines will develop hives or mild swelling in the affected area. These symptoms often subside on their own, but you should still provide remedies to spare your pet from prolonged discomfort.
Q: How can I stop my dog from scratching its mosquito bites?
A: Mosquito bites can be pretty itchy for canines, so an Elizabethan collar will help prevent excessive scratching. It’s important to prevent scratching, so the itchiness won’t worsen and the irritation won’t become an infection. The Elizabethan collar is also a big help if you’re applying topical solutions to ease the bite’s inflammation and itch.
Q: Are specific dog breeds more prone to mosquito bites than others?
A: All dogs can be bitten by mosquitoes. Still, those with shorter fur and hairless ones like Chinese Crested, Xoloitzcuintli, and American Hairless Terrier will suffer more. It’s because the mosquitoes can bite just about any part of their bodies. They don’t have the added protection of fur to block bugs and insects.
Q: Do dogs attract mosquitoes?
A: Dogs aren’t necessarily the culprit to the hordes of mosquitoes in your home. Still, the oils, odor, and heat of the canine’s body will surely attract a few mosquitoes. Stinky dogs tend to invite more bloodsuckers. This is why it’s important to keep your pooch clean and well-groomed all the time.
Knowing how to treat mosquito bites on dogs will save your pet from the agony of itching, swelling, and potential infection. The good news is that there are many home remedies that you can try.
But if the dog’s condition worsens, it’s always best to consult a veterinarian. Dogs suffering from anaphylactic shock require immediate veterinary attention.
Have you encountered mosquito bites on your dog before? How did you treat it? Share your methods below!