How to protect your dog from mosquitoes?

2 minutes. for reading

Any pet owner knows about the dangers of fleas and ticks, but there is another pest that threatens the lives of our pets that is much less talked about: mosquitoes. Before a backyard barbecue or a weekend hike in the mountains, we humans arm ourselves with sprays, candles and incense to repel mosquitoes, but often forget to take the same precautions for our four-legged companions.

Mosquitoes may not seem like a problem for relatively furry animals like dogs and cats, but long fur doesn't protect them from being bitten. Although we typically associate mosquito bites with itching and irritation, they can also carry serious bacterial and parasitic infections, the main one being heartworm. Mosquitoes play a critical role in transmitting heartworm from other wild animal hosts, such as coyotes and foxes, to dogs and cats. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 to 3 years in cats. Because of their longevity, each mosquito season poses a potential risk of increasing the number of worms in an infested pet.

In addition to heartworms, other mosquito-borne infections include West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis. Although research is insufficient to definitively say whether the Zika virus affects cats and dogs (the first confirmed case of Zika was found in a rhesus monkey living in the Zika forest), concerns about its spread in the United States continue to grow. While all of these infections are less common than heartworms, they can cause serious illness in you and your pets and should be on your radar.

If you're thinking about sharing DEET with your pet while you're in the garden or on the trail—not so fast. DEET and other insect repellents should never be used on cats and dogs because pets tend to lick themselves. The best plan of action to keep your pets safe is to take long-term preventive measures. Here are some tips to control and avoid mosquitoes in your home:

Remove standing water

Remove standing water around your home and yard and change the water in your pet's water bowl at least once a day. Mosquitoes are attracted to damp places and lay eggs around and in standing water. They require only an inch of water to breed and rarely travel more than 1,000 feet from their breeding site.

Prepare your home

Fix broken windows and screens around your home and fill gaps between air conditioners and window sills. If you wake up with new bites (check your pets too!), there may be an open area where mosquitoes are getting into.

Remove standing water around your home and yard and change the water in your pet's water bowl at least once a day.

Avoid rush hours

Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Do not walk your pets or leave them outside during peak mosquito periods.

Find suitable products

Look for repellents specifically designed for cats and dogs. As mentioned above, solutions designed for humans are not always safe for pets.

As summer approaches, many areas of the United States are experiencing unusually wet winters, causing mosquito populations to increase. It is essential for your pet's safety to take precautions against mosquito bites. Seek advice from your veterinarian to create a prevention plan that best suits your pet's needs.

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