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What are Mosquito Bites?

Mosquitoes might not seem to be a big problem for furry animals like dogs and cats, but your pets can still get bitten in areas with only thin hair coverage, such as the nose and ears. Dogs and cats experience the same itching and irritation around mosquito bites as humans, however a more serious concern is the spread of mosquito-borne diseases, especially heartworm. Heartworm is a parasite that causes life-threatening heart and lung infection in dogs and sometimes cats. It is carried from one animal to another via mosquitoes and it is relatively common in the United States. Protecting your dog or cat from mosquito bites is the best way to reduce the risk of heartworm infection. Mosquitoes pass through several stages in their life cycle. The eggs are laid by an adult female. She will choose a site close to water since mosquito eggs need water exposure to hatch; however the eggs can survive for several months unhatched if moisture is not present. The larva, sometimes called the “wriggler,” is a small worm that lives and feeds in the water, coming to the surface to breathe. The pupa or transition stage takes place just before the adult mosquito emerges. This phase is called the “tumbler” stage; the pupa remains in the water, but does not feed and develops a hard case that protects the developing adult fly. Shortly after emerging, mosquitoes will take to the air in the form that is best known. The females will bite humans and other animals such as dogs and cats, often spreading blood infections from one host to another. The entire mosquito life cycle usually takes about two weeks, but in ideal breeding conditions with high moisture levels, it may be as short as four days. Over the course of the summer, thousands of mosquitoes will be born and have the potential to bite and infect your dog or cat. Outdoor animals are more at risk, especially dogs or cats that spend a lot of time close to swampy areas or stagnant water.

Mosquitoes can be a nuisance for dogs and cats just as they are for humans. The bites cause itching and irritation, but more importantly they can also spread serious bacteria and parasite infections.

Mosquito Bites Average Cost

From 25 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Mosquito Bites in Dogs

When dogs and cats are bitten by mosquitoes, they experience the same itching and irritation as humans. The following symptoms could indicate mosquito bites.

  • Constant scratching
  • Rubbing ears or nose against a rough surface
  • Red welts similar to mosquito bites in humans
  • Systemic illness from mosquito-borne parasite infection
  • Coughing
  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Lack of appetite or weight loss
  • Vomiting (cats)

Types

These are some of the many different types of infection that can be carried by mosquitoes.

  • Heartworm
  • West Nile Virus
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Heartworm is the most common concern for dogs and cats.

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Causes of Mosquito Bites in Dogs

It’s impossible to eliminate all mosquitoes, but these are some factors to take into consideration.

  • Standing water around the house
  • Animal water bowls or troughs
  • Bird bath
  • Any ornamental pond
  • Untreated pool
  • Seepage from a septic tank
  • Water pooling in a tarp cover
  • Water pooling in a driveway pothole
  • Broken screens
  • Night lighting
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Diagnosis of Mosquito Bites in Dogs

Mosquito bites can be diagnosed based on signs of itching and irritation as well as the presence of mosquitoes. Bites that carry infection are undetectable from those that don’t, so heartworm is only found through regular testing, or when symptoms of illness are already present. 

A small blood sample can be used to detect the presence of heartworm-related proteins. It takes six months for an animal to test positive for infection, so it’s recommended that dogs be tested at least once annually after they are seven months old. Cats are not as typical a host for heartworm; the infection is less common and different testing regimes may be recommended by different veterinarians. In cats, few worms reach the adult stage, however the larvae can still cause fatal and sometimes sudden illness, so it’s important to get your cat tested often too. If your dog or cat tests positive for heartworm, chest X-rays or further tests may be ordered to evaluate the extent of the infection.

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Treatment of Mosquito Bites in Dogs

Insect repellent is often used to reduce mosquito bites in humans, but it can be unsafe for dogs and cats. Any human designed spray, especially those that contain DEET, may be toxic and should be avoided. Choose a repellant that is tested specifically on your pet, preferably with the advice of a veterinarian. Environmental repellants such as sandalwood or citronella candles may be more advisable if you cannot find a spray that is safe for pets.

If your dog or cat is suffering from severe discomfort related to mosquito bites the veterinarian may be able to prescribe or recommend a treatment to reduce the itching. Otherwise, no treatment is necessary. Dogs that test positive for mosquito-borne heartworm infection are usually treated with an arsenic-containing medication given in small doses over the course of several months. This medication is not safe to use in cats. No treatment is currently available for cats diagnosed with heartworm infection. However, monthly preventive medication can be given to both dogs and cats and is usually effective at eliminating the risk of infection.

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Recovery of Mosquito Bites in Dogs

Individual mosquito bites will heal in dogs and cats, but continued exposure increases the risk of infection. Taking steps to make your house and yard as mosquito free as possible in the summer months can reduce the chance that pets will be bitten by disease carrying insects. Since no mosquito elimination is foolproof, the best way to manage heartworm infection is with medication and regular testing. It’s important to be consistent and give each dose at the same time each month, since missed or late doses can impact the effectiveness of the treatment. Pets should be tested before beginning a treatment plan and after any lapse in medication.

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Mosquito Bites Average Cost

From 25 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Mosquito Bites Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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electra

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bull arab mastif and bull dog

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16 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lump
Fast Breathing
Fast Breathing And Swealing

my dog has been bitten severly back and feet by mosquitos, our rotti has few but not a huge amount what can I do to help quickly got worse in last three days don't have money for vet or transport, environment has not changed except little bit of long grasss. have recently dug holes in dirt though

March 9, 2018

electra's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. If Electra is having mosquito bites and is itchy on her feet only, you can bathe her in cool water to relieve the itching, and time should make the itching better, same as in people. If she was bitten and is showing signs of an allergic reaction, with facial swelling or trouble breathing, there isn't any other option for her than to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If the mosquito bites have caused a secondary infection, she needs to be seen for that as well. A visit to a veterinarian and a prescription for medications should not be terribly expensive, and she may need veterinary care. I hope that all goes well for her.

March 9, 2018

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Chester

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Chihuahua

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Hives
Welts

My 20lb chijuajua mix got bitten all over his body by what I think were mosquitoes. He now has hives all over his belly as well. I gave him the recommended dose of benedryl, when it was first noticed, and a few hours later, a bath. They both worked for a short time, but now, he can’t lay down or anything due to the itching. I gave the last dose of benrdryl about 5hrs ago. And my vet is closed tomorrow. What should I do. I’m getting very scared, and I don’t scare easy!

Dec. 27, 2017

Chester's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Sometimes dogs do need repeated dosages of anti-histamine to keep he allergic reaction caused by insects under control over a couple of days. Since I can't examine him or diagnose what it going on with him, it would be best to have him seen at your nearest emergency clinic - if the oral antihistamine isn't working, he may need something stronger to get the itching under control, or he may have more going on that what is being treated with the Benadryl. I hope that he is okay.

Dec. 27, 2017

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Charlee

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Goldendoodle

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1.5 years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Frequent Itching,
Slight Bleeding From Bite

Our dog has a very large mosquito bite on her back. We think that, at one time, it was a normal bite. However, due to constant itching and scratching, we think it has become worse and potentially infected. It has started to bleed, but not much and only from the one spot. We know it must hurt her, because she tries to run away when we try and help her with it. What do you suggest doing, and is this serious?

Sept. 7, 2017

Charlee's Owner


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0 Recommendations

Secondary infection of bites and scratches are serious; it is important to bathe the area regularly with a dilute antiseptic and try applying a topical antibiotic ointment to the area; the hardest part will be stopping licking and further scratching of the bite. If you are having difficulty handling Charlee it may be worth visiting your Veterinarian for them to have a look at it and they may offer something to decrease the level of irritation. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Sept. 7, 2017

We went camping and got all set up and lots of mosquitoes. Both our dachshunds got all bit up in a half hour time. The female dog seemed like she was dying, so we put water on her and petted her and kept talking to her. Then I gave her some benedryal. Her muzzle and eyes were swollen. Then the male dog started doing the same thing. They both could hardly walk and their breathing was shallow. We packed everything back up and took our dogs home. By then they seemed a little better and when we got home they were doing ok. MY females face is still swallow. We live in MT and never heard of heart worms here. Should we still treat our dogs for heart worms since they were bitten a lot by the mosquitoes?

July 7, 2018

Dorothy L.

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Brass and Knuckles

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pitbull

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Approximately 6 months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Laying Around
Can'T Get Comfortable

I have two pit pups. Got home from work this morning and one was not himself at all. Acts like his spirit had been broken. Just lays around. The other has been a little more like himself until this afternoon. Now he is throwing up. We have mosquitoes as I have gotten bit by them.

Aug. 30, 2017

Brass and Knuckles' Owner

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0 Recommendations

Firstly if you are living in a heartworm area you should be giving both Brass and Knuckles regular heartworm prevention medication. Allergic reactions to mosquitoes may cause symptoms of lethargy; however, trauma from a fall where he hit his head is also a possible cause and should be seen by your Veterinarian (especially if they climb on furniture or use the stairs). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVMwww.vetary.com/dog/condition/mosquito-bite-allergies

Aug. 30, 2017

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Jaxon

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pomeranian cross

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8 Years

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Moderate severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Licking Tail
Erratic
Isolates

My little dog is 8 years old and around 9lbs. He has suddenly started licking his tail, shaking, and acting erratically. He has always either slept in bed with me or under the bed; we call it his "man-cave". But he is now hiding in the closet in the office or behind he toilet in the bathroom. I recently changed his food and he isn't eating much of it. He doesn't want to be held any more and hides more than he is social.

Aug. 30, 2017

Jaxon's Owner

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2 Recommendations

Constant licking of the tail or hind areas and strange behaviour (possibly caused by pain) may be attributable to anal gland or other issues around that area; without examining Jaxon, I cannot say what the cause is but changes to diet may cause issues back there. It would be best to have your Veterinarian take a look to see if there is anything to be concerned about and until then try to prevent Jaxon from licking or biting the area and bathe the area so that the saliva from the licking doesn’t irritate the skin. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 30, 2017

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Mosquito Bites Average Cost

From 25 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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