Hot weather tends to bring with it a few pet hazards, one of which is outdoor pests. Mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance to us humans—they can bite our canine companions as well! Read on to find out more about the dangers these pests pose and how to keep your four-legged friend safe from harm.
A dog’s coat of fur does offer some protection against mosquito bites, but mosquitoes can still bite our dogs on areas of exposed skin like that on the nose or ear edges. Bites may result in an irritating red bump, similar to what would appear on human skin. The greater danger, though, is the diseases that mosquitoes can carry.
The chief danger of mosquitoes to our canine friends is heartworm disease. Heartworm is a serious condition, spread by mosquitoes, that affects millions of pets every year. When a mosquito carrying the heartworm larvae bites your dog, the larvae is passed into your dog’s tissue, where it proceeds to grow into parasitic adult worms. From there, your dog’s arteries, lungs, and heart are affected. Associated symptoms include coughing, weakness, vomiting, and trouble breathing.
Heartworm disease is the main concern when it comes to mosquitoes and our dogs, but other diseases can be spread by these pests as well. Although very rare in dogs, West Nile Virus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), and other diseases can be transmitted through mosquito bites.
First and foremost, keep your dog on a year-round heartworm preventative. This essential healthcare step is your dog’s first line of defense against mosquitoes and the main danger they present: heartworm disease. If your dog isn’t already on a heartworm preventative, set up an appointment at your vet’s office promptly.
There are other steps you can take to minimize the risk of mosquitoes biting your dog in the first place. First, remove any sources of standing water around your property; mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Outfit your home with sturdy window screens to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside. Don’t allow your dog to explore marsh areas—where mosquitoes thrive—and keep them indoors during the early morning and early evening hours, when mosquitoes tend to be most active.
If you have questions about protecting your dog from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, contact your veterinarian’s office. We’re here to help with all of your pet-care needs!