Can Dogs Get Bitten by Mosquitoes?

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Your dog is a living canine version of Chewbacca, the Wookie. His coat is so thick that you struggle to get a comb through it...surely he's safe from mosquito bites? After all, wearing a wooly suit of armor has to give some protection….

 

Hmmm, maybe, maybe not. This could depend on how much of a risk you a prepared to take with your dog. Having hair helps, but even long-furred dogs are at risk from mosquito bites. Read on to find out why.

 

Of course, people are far less hirsute than our pet pals, and also prone to pesky mosquito bites. This is bad news on so many levels. From the irritation of those itchy red lumps that you can't help but scratch to the diseases biting mosquitoes carry such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, and Elephantiasis...mosquito bites are best avoided. But is the same true for our fur-friends?

 

There are several unpleasant dog diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes.Top of the list, in sky-high neon-lit capital letters, is heartworm...along with Leishmaniasis.

Can Dogs Get Bitten by Mosquitoes?

YES!

Now you might think your hearth-rug Chewbacca look-alike dog is safe from mosquito bites...but this isn't always the case.

 

Those thin-furred areas, such as the nose and groin, are still ripe for a nip from a mosquito. When you dog goes to drink from that stagnant pond, swarms of mosquitoes can nip at  the bridge of the nose, or even the smooth inner ear flap or belly

 

This is also true for medium and short-coated dogs. The shorter the fur, the greater the risk of bites on the trunk, legs, or belly.

 

You also need to know mosquitoes are not just a nuisance, they can transmit diseases such as heartworm to your dog.

Does My Dog have Mosquito Bites?

What will you see if your dog gets bitten?

 

  • Itchy, raised lumps on the skin. For short coated dogs, skin inflammation can give the appearance of raised patches of fur.

  • Itchiness. Just as bites are irritating to people, so they are irresistibly itchy to our pet pals.

  • Rubbing or scratching at raised red welts on the skin.

 

As to the causes of mosquito bites, be vigilant for bodies of standing water where they love to breed, such as:

  • Bird baths

  • Stagnant ponds

  • Ponding in tarp covers

  • Untreated pools

  • Standing buckets of water

 

Diagnosis of mosquito bites is usually made on appearance alone. However, diagnosis of the conditions they carry, such as heartworm and Leishmaniasis, is more complex and involves blood tests, x-rays, and possibly skin biopsies.

How Do I Treat Mosquito Bites in Dogs?

Prevention is better than cure. This involves draining sources of standing water, plus avoiding exercising the dog when the mosquitoes are most active, such as at dawn and dusk. Avoid using human insect ant repellent on dogs. These products often contain DEET, which is toxic to dogs. Speak to your vet about a licensed product that is both safe and effective for pets.

 

Treatment

The itchy redness of a mosquito bite is best treated with a topical ointment containing antihistamines or even steroids. In ultra-itchy cases, then giving steroids by injection or mouth may be necessary, to stop the dog damaging their own skin by scratching.

 

Recovery

Mosquito bites are a nuisance, but most dogs shake off the itchiness within a few days. More of a worry is the after effects such as disease transmission. Since it's not possible to completely eliminate the risk of bites, it's essential to use a heartworm preventative all year round.

 

For more information on treatment and prevention visit: Mosquito Bites in Dogs.

How are Mosquito Bites in Dogs Similar to those in Humans?

Oh, those pesky mosquitoes! Here's how they make dogs suffer, just like people.

  • Raised red welts on the skin

  • Overwhelming urge to itch

  • Can transfer disease from bug to body

How are Mosquito Bites in Dogs Different than those in Humans?

And how do dogs and people differ in their response?

Actually, this is one area where they are remarkably similar, except that mosquitoes carry a whole host more diseases that affect people, such as:

    • Zika virus

    • Yellow Fever

    • Dengue virus

    • Malaria

    • Chikungunya

And don't forget, an excellent resource to learn more about mosquito bites in dogs is  Mosquito Bites in Dogs.

Case Study

Imagine a short-coated dog, left in a yard at dusk. Mosquitoes from a neighboring pond zero in on the dog and bite the skin of his trunk. Within 20 minutes or so, the dog's normally smooth coat has a bumpy appearance. This is due to skin inflammation and swelling at the site of the bites causing the hair to stand on end.

 

The dog is irritated by the itchiness and starts to scratch. Prompt treatment with an antihistamine helps soothe the irritation and prevent self-trauma to the skin.

 

The more concerning question was whether the dog regularly takes a heartworm preventative. If 'Yes' then there's little cause for concern, if 'No' then the dog may have just contracted a parasite that can kill if left untreated.