With summer in full swing, many Americans are already beginning to plan exciting outdoor activities. However, in many parts of the country, outdoor fun also means dealing with pesky, and sometimes disease-carrying, mosquitoes. Health experts warn that mosquitoes pose a significant health threat in summer and people should always take precautions to prevent bites.
What many fail to realize, though, is that mosquitoes can also be a major problem for cats, dogs, and other household pets. It may seem there is no way for a mosquito to bite through hair and fur but pets can still be bitten in areas with thin hair coverage (nose, ears, belly, and others). Though we primarily associate mosquito bites with itching, irritation, and swelling -- and these apply to animals and humans alike -- the most serious concern in pets is the spread of mosquito-borne bacteria, infection, and diseases -- particularly heartworm. Heartworm is a potentially life-threatening parasite that causes lung and heart infection, most often in dogs but also in cats. Heartworms are carried between animals by mosquitoes and are quite common in the U.S.
Concerned pet owners often search the internet or contact their veterinarians to learn about symptoms of mosquito bites in animals. Though some are similar to those in humans, more serious symptoms can emerge and usually indicate the presence of infection and disease. The most common symptoms in pets are:
- Nonstop Scratching —- particularly the rubbing of noses and/or ears on rough surfaces
- Red Welts in Sensitive Areas -— noses and ears, similar to mosquito bites in humans
- Depression and/or Lethargy
- Respiratory Difficulty
- Weight Loss and Lack of Appetite
- Vomiting -— most often in cats
Given the potential severity of mosquito bites, what steps can owners take to protect their beloved pets from these effects? Here are a few suggestions from BarkPost Editor Tiffany White:
- Minimize or eliminate stagnant water. Mosquitoes require water to live and limiting or restricting access is a great way to prevent them from breeding and biting pets.
- Keep pets indoors during peak times. Mosquitoes have “rush hours” -— times during the day when they are most active -— and they are dawn and dusk. Keep animals indoors during these hours to prevent interactions with hungry mosquitoes.
- Apply insect repellent which is created for use on pets. Experts warn against using human repellents on animals —- they work great on us but are toxic for our furry friends! DEET is the primary ingredient in most human sprays and can cause vomiting, skin irritation, and even seizures in animals. Instead, opt for specially formulated mosquito repellent for dogs and cats.
One of the finest and most effective insect repellents for pets is Bugs Be Gone from Green Goo, which is free from DEET, citronella, and other synthetic chemicals. Bugs Be Gone is handcrafted using a homeopathic formula and enriched with a high concentration of natural herbs and plant-based oils including lavender, olive oil, rosemary, sunflower oil, and sage. As with all of Green Goo’s products, Bugs Be Gone is gluten-free and contains no hazardous chemicals such as petroleum, parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, or propylene glycol.