We may think that our beloved pets – cats and dogs are protected against mosquito bites, but the reality is different. Although animals have thick fur and hair, mosquitoes still can bite them in areas that are not protected by hair, which include nose, airs, stomach and other areas. And similar to you, your cat or dog also finds mosquito bites very itchy and the bitten area may swell and get an infection if not treated correctly. This is why we have gathered tips of how to protect your pets from mosquito bites and how to treat mosquito bitten areas.
How to treat mosquito bites
In general mosquito bites do not harm animals, except those areas where mosquitoes carry the dangerous heartworm disease that can be deadly to dogs, cats and other animals. But our pets do get the same itching feeling as humans and can also get an infection in the bitten area, if they keep scratching the skin around that area. So it is important to properly treat these areas, especially if you see that your dog or cat won’t stop scratching the bite and the swelling spot starts to become larger. A mosquito bitten area usually becomes red, swells and cause an inflammatory response and itching that can last for few hours. The reaction from a pet is to start scratching, licking and chewing that bitten area to relief the itch, similar as we tend to scratch mosquito bitten areas. Although a mosquito bite is not dangerous to a pet, you should pay attention if the bitten area does not start to swell more or if a dog starts to act unusual, as these can be signs that the bite might not be from a mosquito, but from a more dangerous insect such as a wasp or even a spider. In that case bring your pet to a wet, so he can examine the bite and treat it with a proper medication.
There are many ways you can relief the itching feeling and prevent bacteria infecting the bitten area. Some of these remedies are medications such as antibacterial creams against infections that you can get from a wet. But there are also many natural remedies that you can find at your home, which can be used on mosquito bitten areas of your dog or cat.
Aloe vera is one of the most common natural mosquito remedies that also works as a mosquito repellent. Aloe vera is used to treat mosquito bites for humans and also for pets. This natural mosquito remedy will sooth skin irritation, pain and will cool down the bite. Aloe vera can be used not only for mosquito bites but also for stings from other, larger insect such as bees and wasps. You can either use the juice from the plant and apply it directly to the bitten area or purchase an aloe vera lotion that is permitted to be used on pets.
This is a simple solution you can mix at your home and involves a baking soda and water. Simply make a paste by mixing baking soda with water and apply the paste to the bitten area of your pet few times a day. This is a natural remedy that will help to reduce the swelling quicker.
Similar to baking soda you can mix oatmeal and water to create a paste that can be applied to the swollen area. This mixture will also relieve the itching feeling and stop your pet from scratching the bitten area.
Another simple remedy which also works on humans is putting an ice pack on the swollen area, this will ease the pain and swelling of the skin.
You can also use antibacterial creams that are made specifically for dogs or cats, which will sanitize and prevent an infection getting into the bitten areas. You can look for such creams in veterinary clinics, where professionals will help you to choose the right medication for each situation individually. Also these and other creams help to take off the itching, which also reduces the risk that your pet may scratch and infect the bitten skin. For dogs you can get a hydrocortisone cream or spray, which need to be applied to the swollen skin few times a day and will ease the irritation, and also there are medications called antihistamines that help to control an intense itching and irritation and will be especially useful for bites from various insects. However you must always consult with your wet before giving any medication to your pet, because there are important restrictions such as minimum weight for different dosages and allergic reactions for some pets to different medication, which you must know before giving such medication to your pet. And remember, if the swelling does not come off after few days or gets worse, take you pet to a wet for further treatment.
How to protect your pet from mosquito bites
There are different ways you can protect your pet from mosquito bites, such as using mosquito control methods that will reduce a mosquito population in your area, using pet safe mosquito repellents and also some general stuff such as keeping you pet inside during mosquito active hours.
General protection tips
Keep your pet indoors during evenings and mornings
First tip that all pet owners must be aware off is to keep their pets indoors during mosquito active hours, which are mostly evenings around dusk and early mornings. Majority of mosquito species are not active during day, especially in sunny areas, but become much more active when it gets darker and also when wind has lowered down, which is mostly in early mornings.
Don’t walk your pet in mosquito active places
This is a pretty obvious tip to protect your pet from mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are living in warm and humid areas with standing water, which include ponds, large puddles, swarms and others. Avoid walking your pet in swarmy areas, because there is a high chance that there will be lots of mosquitoes in these areas.
Use heartworm prevention medication if your area has a high risk of heartworm infection
Heartworm infection is very dangerous for pets, especially for dogs and will cause a lot of problems if a dog will get infected. If you are living in an area with high risk of getting a heartworm infection it would be useful to talk with your veterinary and put your dog on heartworm prevention medication, which usually is in form of a pill that needs to be given to your dog once a month or a vaccine that will provide few months of protection from heartworm disease.
Mosquito control actions
Mosquito control is one of the best ways to protect your pet from mosquito bites. There are few ways you can reduce mosquito population around your house and in your backyard starting from simple actions such as removing any sources of standing water to more expensive by using mosquito control devices such as mosquito foggers and traps.
Eliminate any sources of standing water
The first step of a successful mosquito control is to get rid of places where mosquitoes live and reproduce, which include any sources with standing water older than few days. Female mosquitoes lay eggs into standing water, so to continue their species a female mosquito needs to find a source of standing water. The worst case is that it isn’t difficult at all, because there are lots of natural and artificial areas that collect and store rain water, which are perfect places for mosquitoes to lay eggs. To eliminate a mosquito population around your house and in your backyard get rid of any objects that might collect rain water. Such objects may include metal cans, bowls, old tires, any container from plastic or other waterproof material, clogged rain gutters, old pools filled with water or pools without chlorinated water. Also look for natural sources of standing water which may include smaller ponds, large puddles that don’t dry out, swarms and swarmy lawns, also watch for holes in trees that can collect rain water and is a great place for mosquitoes to live. It is important to check all these areas after rain, if they have collected some rain water that mosquitoes may use to reproduce. This is a simple to do tip that should reduce mosquito population in your yard and make outdoor time for you and your pet more pleasant.
Regularly change water bowls
This tip is useful for those, whose pet spend its time outdoors during daytime. Remember to regularly change water in water bowls, so mosquitoes cannot use these bowls to lay eggs and continue their population. It is recommended to change the water in the bowl at least few times a day to be fully sure that no mosquitoes lay their eggs into the bowl.
Put on window and door screens
This is a useful tip for those that keep their pets indoors most of the time and for those that live in a multistory apartments. Put special screens against insects on all doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes to coming indoors and so protecting yourself and your pet from mosquito bites.
Use other mosquito control methods to reduce mosquito population (foggers, traps)
Mosquito fogger can be used to kill mosquitoes in a yard and reduce their population to minimum after some period. Mosquito fogger is a tool that is used to spray solutions called insecticides that kills mosquitoes on contact. Generally most insecticide liquids contain chemicals, so they must be used with care, especially when you have a pet. Always read the usage instruction of the fogger and insecticide before using it and make sure that your pet isn’t around when you are fogging and about half an hour after fogging, when chemicals have evaporated in air. These times should be indicated on the packaging of each insecticide solution.
After using a mosquito fogger you will have couple hours of mosquito free outdoor time. However, in opposite to other mosquito control methods such as insect repellents that provide only short term solution to mosquito problem, fogger can give a large impact on mosquito population by reducing it after systematic fogging. When fogging few times a week for couple of months will reduce adult mosquito count, so there won’t be as much female mosquitoes to lay eggs, which after time will reduce the overall mosquito population. For even better effect you can use mosquito control products that take action not only on adult mosquitoes, but also on mosquitoes in development stages called larvicides.
Mosquito trap is another device that can help to reduce a mosquito population and provide mosquito free outdoor time for you and your pet. Mosquito traps use different methods to lure, trap and kill mosquitoes, such as imitating human breathing by producing carbon dioxide, luring them by using octenol, ultraviolet light and heat. There are many factors that impact the success rate of mosquito traps, such as climate and weather conditions in the area where device is used, the overall size of mosquito population and what mosquito species live in the area and also few other factors. High quality mosquito traps will cost you few hundred dollars to purchase and will require few tens of dollars investment each month for electricity usage and changing of propane tanks.
Mosquito repellents for pets
Another way you can protect your pet from mosquito bites is with a mosquito repellent. For humans mosquito repellents with chemicals such as DEET, picaridin and other are the most effective, however these substances cannot be used on animals.
DEET and other repellents with chemicals that work for humans must not be used on animals, because these repellants contain toxic substances that can be very dangerous for cats and dogs. Also be very careful with using natural mosquito repellent on your pets, because different cat and dog breeds can be allergic to such natural repellents, which may be dangerous to your pet health.
Before using any repellent on your cat or dog talk to your veterinary to know, which substances are safe to use on your pet. Cats are very sensitive to different oils, so before using any chemical or natural repellent on your cat, first talk with your veterinary. Some of the more common mosquito repellents for dogs are: K9 Advantix and Frontline products, citronella oil, lemon juice, neem oil, granium and soybean oil, eucalyptus oil.