Do Dogs Get Bitten by Mosquitoes?

Do Dogs Get Bitten by Mosquitoes?

Posted by Volhard Dog Nutrition on Jan 2nd 2023

What does a quick stroll in the park have in common with an exciting camping trip or even a peaceful evening at home? They can all be ruined by hungry mosquitoes. The moment you hear the annoying sound of these small, pesky insects, you know there's trouble coming your way. We have all found mosquito bite marks on our bodies without catching the culprit, but do dogs experience the same ordeal?

The answer is yes. Just because dogs don't voice their discomfort doesn't mean they don't need mosquito protection. Mosquitoes are opportunists — they will bite every breathing organism to get that nutrient-rich blood. The big difference between you and your dog in getting a mosquito bite is you're more likely to notice them. For some reason, certain dogs don't seem as bothered by mosquito bites as humans. But a lack of discomfort is not equivalent to a lack of danger — aside from itchy welts, a mosquito can leave behind an array of menacing parasites, with heartworms at the top of the list.

Fortunately, a variety of natural remedies can help prevent mosquito bites on dogs and keep them away from hazardous parasites!

What is the Mosquito Life Cycle?

Each mosquito goes through the following life cycle stages:

  1. The adult female lays the eggs near a water source. The mosquito eggs require water exposure in order to hatch. In case of a lack of water, the eggs will wait several months for the appropriate hatching conditions.
  2. The larva — also known as the wriggler —leaves the eggs and feeds at the water's surface.
  3. During the "tumbler" stage, the pupa stops feeding and develops a hard shell to protect the adult mosquito. The process takes 2-3 days.
  4. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a mosquito's life cycle — from egg to adult — takes 8-10 days. Ideal conditions, with substantial moisture levels, can shorten the process to 4 days.

Can Mosquitoes Bite Dogs With Thick Fur?

Dogs with thick coats are not impervious to mosquito bites. Female mosquitoes wield a sharper proboscis (i.e., the mosquito's mouth) than their male counterparts, which is why males are not to blame for our mosquito bites. However, a female mosquito's proboscis will go right past your dog's fur, especially in more vulnerable body areas, such as:

  • Belly
  • Ears
  • Mouth
  • Nose

What Do Mosquito Bites on Dogs Look Like?

The thick coat of certain dog breeds makes it more challenging to spot mosquito bite marks. But even in short-haired dog breeds, there's no telling how the body will react. While one dog will exhibit no reactions after dozens of bites, another might develop an allergic reaction from a singular bite!

The most frequent symptoms of mosquito bites on dogs are:

  • Swollen welts on the bitten area
  • Itching
  • Discomfort

Mosquitoes are a Haven for Dangerous Parasites

Although a nuisance more than a health hazard, there's no telling which mosquito bite will put your dog's health in danger. Mosquitoes are an endless reservoir for viruses and diseases, such as:

  • The West Nile virus
  • The Zika virus
  • Heartworm disease
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Although only confined to rare cases, these viruses and diseases are only a mosquito bite away, which is why finding an effective mosquito repellent for your dog is imperative.

Heartworms are the Most Dangerous Parasite a Mosquito Can Carry

By far, the most common — and equally dangerous — parasite transmitted through mosquito bites is the heartworm. Only mosquitoes can transmit heartworms to dogs. About 1 in 100 dogs in the U.S. contract this insidious parasite through mosquito bites every year.

Female mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting heartworm disease to our dogs. First, they contract the parasite by feeding on an infected animal (e.g., another dog, a coyote, a fox, etc.) and ingesting microfilariae (i.e., the circulating young larva of the heartworm). The microfilariae undergo a two-week incubation period inside the mosquito.

Once injected into the new host, the larvae travel, through the dog's bloodstream and tissue, toward the heart's right ventricle, where they become adults. Six months later, they're ready to reproduce. The infected dog will show no clinical signs for 3-4 years. During that time, thousands of heartworms will grow, reproduce, and travel throughout the dog's body, waiting to be ingested by mosquitoes and infest another host. The longer it takes to identify the heartworms, the harder it will be for your dog's heart to breathe and pump enough blood throughout the body.

The healthiest avenue toward heartworm prevention is constant observation. We suggest testing your dog for heartworms at least once every couple of years, with one yearly test — during your dog's yearly physical — being the ideal frequency.

How Do I Keep Mosquitoes From Biting My Dog?

Keeping your dog away from mosquitoes is not an easy feat to accomplish — they are ubiquitous, hard to spot, and determined to make our lives miserable. But there are a few preventative measures pet owners can take to protect their dogs' health without resorting to expensive medication!

Keep a Closer Eye on Your Pet's Health

Parasites are on a constant lookout for unhealthy hosts — the frailer a dog is, the more it becomes a target for fleasticks, and heartworms. That is why looking out for your dog's health is essential. Feeding a fresh, natural diet, coupled with constant exercise and easy access to fresh, clean water, will strengthen your dog's immune system against foreign invaders. This approach won't create an impenetrable shield against mosquitoes but will drastically reduce the chances of other parasite infestation.

Eliminate Any Sources of Standing Water

Mosquitoes need standing water to fulfill their life cycle. So, take a closer look at your garden/yard and eliminate any sources of standing water from your property. If mosquitoes are targeting your bird bath, you can always switch it with a fountain-feature one to keep the water moving.

Grow Some Plants in Your Yard to Deter Mosquitoes!

Plants like peppermint, lavender, rosemary basil, catnip, citrosum, and lemon balm naturally repel mosquitoes. These are safe for dogs, so you won’t have to worry about what might happen if your dog ends up chewing on them. Do not grow plants such as citronella, varieties of marigolds, geraniums, and garlic plants since they are toxic to dogs.

Essential Oils are Excellent Mosquito-Repellent Options!

Now is the time to find a natural mosquito repellent for your dog. Mosquitoes rely on their sense of smell to identify sources of food. But not all scents attract them. Lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint are all-natural repellents for these pesky parasites. That is why we recommend harnessing their anti-mosquito properties in the shape of essential oils. Add a few drops of essential oils to a mixture of water and lemon juice, then spray the concoction on your dog's coat. However, avoid spraying the mixture in your dog's eyes or on surfaces where they can lick or ingest it, as it can cause digestive distress.

A comprehensive list of natural remedies against mosquito bites includes:

  • Lavender
  • Marigolds
  • Citronella grass (i.e., lemon grass)
  • Catmint
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Citronella or scented geranium
  • Bee balm
  • Mint
  • Floss flower (i.e., ageratum)
  • Sage

If you're unsure how to proceed with creating your own natural pest repellent, this simple recipe will get you started:


  • 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Neem oil
  • 3 drops of cedarwood essential oil
  • 3 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops of lemongrass essential oil

How to prepare:

  1. Mix the ingredients in a 1/4 cup of filtered water.
  2. Rub a small amount through your dog's coat every few days.
  3. Focus on the pests' preferred hiding places, such as the rough between the legs around the ears.
  4. Be sure to reapply after bathing or swimming.

Essential oils are but one way to prevent mosquitoes from biting your dogs. If you've been wondering how to add more life and color to your garden/yard, we have fantastic news: simply planting these mosquito repellents around your house will transform your home into an impervious citadel against these parasites!

Another Plant Mosquitoes Absolutely Detest is Garlic

Vampire stories may not be your cup of tea, but there's something you should learn from their weaknesses. Akin to Dracula, mosquitoes do not square with garlic, a superfood with remarkable antibacterial properties. It's healthy and does a fantastic job of warding off parasites without affecting helpful insects and bacteria. Furthermore, it's easy to grow and can benefit the health of your entire garden by keeping invading weeds at bay.

When Do Mosquito Bites Call for a Trip to the Vet?

The gravity of mosquito bites depends on various circumstances. For example, if you live in a low-mosquito area and you find a bite on your dog's skin from time to time, there's probably no substantial reason to be alarmed. But if you live in a high-mosquito area and see these parasites swarming around your pooch, we recommend taking certain precautionary measures.

Contact your veterinarian and learn more about the number of confirmed heartworm disease cases in the area. If heartworm-infected dogs live in your neighborhood, adding chemicals to your preventative measures is warranted.

Keep Your Dog Away From Mosquito Bites and Potential Heartworm Infections!

For most dogs, akin to humans, mosquito bites are an inevitable reality. But that doesn't mean we don't have the means to keep them at bay. Keeping a closer eye on your dog's health, eliminating any source of stagnant water, and using all-natural mosquito repellents will curtail the number of mosquito bites and, consequently, the risk of heartworm infection in your dog. For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!

Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!

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