Mosquito Bites on Dogs: Are They Dangerous?
Dr. Holly Dutton
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With mosquito season just around the corner, pet owners once again find themselves worrying more and more about mosquito bites on dogs. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone—and we’re here to help! The fact of the matter is, mosquito bites on dogs can have dangerous risks for your dog, depending on the severity of the bites but most of the time there isn’t much to worry about. Let’s explore this a little deeper so you can know what is and isn’t an emergency.
We will help you know what signs to look for as well as what needs immediate attention. This article can never take away the benefit of an in person physical examination by a veterinarian so remember if you are concerned about your dog’s mosquito bites, you should take them to a vet or emergency vet right away. At VEG you can even call to go over this by speaking with a doctor before your visit.
Mild Risks of Mosquito Bites on Dogs
Below are some mild risks that can come from mosquito bites on dogs:
Itching and Pain
Just like in humans, mosquito bites frequently cause itching and pain in dogs. If your dog experiences a mosquito bite, it will most likely turn into a raised welt like it would on a human and may be extremely itchy until it goes away. Depending on the breed of your dogs, they may have coat that limits the frequency of bites (longer haired dogs are less likely to get bitten versus your short coats).
If you notice your dog scratching a lot and find that she’s focusing on one spot, check for mosquito bites, as they may be present.
Mild Swelling Around the Bitten Area
In some instances, mild swelling may occur. The swelling may be localized to the area of the mosquito bite, or it could spread a little bit on the same part of the body. These focal single areas rarely are noticed and need attention. Small mosquito bites can mimic skin infections that still may require the attention of a veterinarian, so again if you are worried, please seek attention.
Moderate Risks of Mosquito Bites on Dogs
Now that we’ve discussed the mild risks that can accompany this situation, you should know about the moderate risks that can come from your dog getting mosquito bites.
Moderate risks of mosquito bites on dogs include:
Damage to the Skin Barrier
When dogs experience itching and discomfort, their instinct is to scratch and lick at the area. Unfortunately, constant licking and scratching can damage the skin barrier, causing more discomfort and opening the door to potential bacterial infections.
One slightly more worrisome risk of mosquito bites on dogs is an infection. If a mosquito bite is scratched so much that it bleeds and becomes an open wound, it is susceptible to infection from environmental contaminants. Take your dog to the vet if you suspect her bite has become infected.
As your dog focuses on licking, chewing, and scratching the same place on her body, she may cause a hot spot to form after the mosquito bite begins to ease up. Before using any over the counter medication, please contact your family veterinarian to see if they advise this. This is important to already have a primary to limit small things from spreading and turning into an emergency. We are happy to help at VEG but if you can save your pet a visit by having a close relationship with your primary, then you and your pet will feel more at ease. If they aren’t open and can’t assist you then remember, WE are here to help.
Serious Risks of Mosquito Bites on Dogs
While most mosquito bite may not seem like a big deal, rarely they can actually cause serious risks to your pet’s health. If you think your pet may be suffering from any of the risks below, or if you’re concerned about their mosquito bites, take them to the emergency vet right away.
Serious risks of mosquito bites on dogs to be aware of are:
Heartworm Disease in Dogs
Heartworms are transmitted solely through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite an infected animal, and therefore help to spread heartworms to more hosts. Without heartworm protection, dogs are vulnerable to heartworm infection, which can be fatal if it is left untreated. Treatment is possible, but it is costly and may even require surgery; all while causing irreversible long-term damage to your pet’s heart and lungs.
Heartworm disease takes time to progress, as the larvae in the bloodstream travel to the heart, where they take root and mature into adult heartworms. As the worms grow and proliferate, they begin to block the heart’s arteries. This can interrupts blood flow and forces the pet’s heart to work much harder. All dogs need to be kept on heartworm prevention year-round to prevent this harmful disease.
West Nile Virus
Yes, dogs can contract West Nile Virus through the bite of an infected mosquito, just like humans can. This severe illness may cause seizures, fever, and mobility issues, and could potentially be fatal in some instances.
Note that it is very unlikely for dogs to infect humans with the West Nile virus.
Allergic Reaction in Dogs
Although rare, it is possible for mosquito bites to cause a severe anaphylactic reaction in some dogs. This dangerous allergic reaction could lead to a closing of the airways, which in turn could be fatal without prompt medical treatment.
How to Protect Your Dog from Mosquito Bites and Heartworm Disease
You can’t keep your dog in a bubble. They need to enjoy the outdoors and live a full, happy life. Avoiding mosquitoes entirely is impossible but there are preventative steps you can take to minimize your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes, and their risk for heartworm disease.
Below are 4 ways you can help prevent mosquito bites on dogs and heartworm disease in dogs:
1. Heartworm Prevention for Dogs
The first and most important step is to give your dog their monthly heartworm preventative. Missing a dose can increase their risk for infection, so be sure to mark your calendar! Continuous protection is your pet’s best defense against heartworm disease. Your family veterinarian can help you determine which product is right for you and your pet family.
2. Mosquito Repellent for Dogs
Another step you can take to help prevent mosquito bites on dogs is to make your yard a less hospitable place for mosquitoes. Citronella candles and citronella grass can help to keep these flying pests at bay and prevent them from harassing your pet.
3. Essential Oils
Mosquitoes have a very keen sense of smell. In addition to citronella, mosquitoes also hate the scent of rosemary, lavender, peppermint, and lemon eucalyptus. Be sure you don’t let your dogs or cats get into these – that can create another emergency. Essential oils in the house can also be hazardous to cats.
4. Eradicate Potential Mosquito Breeding Grounds
Standing water makes for an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Check your property for standing water, and make sure to empty out and refill your bird bath (if you have one) regularly. There are also bird baths you can get that include a fountain feature, which keeps the water moving and prevents mosquitoes from settling in and laying eggs.
Call Us for More Information about Mosquito Bites on Dogs
As you can see, it’s not always serious when your dog gets mosquito bites. However, they can lead to more serious health risks if not cared for properly. The best thing you can do for your pet is to try and prevent them from getting bitten in the first place. While it can be difficult to prevent this situation completely, there are things you can do to help protect your dog as much as you can.
For questions about mosquito bites on dogs, or if you’re worried about some of the risks that are associated with them impacting your pet, call any of our VEG locations now. All of our locations are open 24/7, with emergency veterinarians on staff who are ready to answer any questions you have regarding your pet’s health. With our team, you can be rest assured that your dog will always get the care they need.