Q: We’re swarmed by mosquitoes! I worry that my dogs and cats are being over-exposed because we live near a canal. Is there anything we can do to stop their biting?
A: Mosquitoes have a natural affinity for skin oils, carbon dioxide and lactic acid, all of which all mammals accumulate and expel in abundance. Which explains why they’re attracted to all of us, furred or not.
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While the dense undercoat most of our pets carry around with them would seem to preclude mosquito bites, it doesn’t stop them. They find the least exposed areas readily. The skin over the bridge of the nose, ears and paws are most affected.
Heartworm infection is only one consequence of mosquito bites. While you should never go without preventative heartworm products (year-round in South Florida), there are other reasons to be wary of mosquito bites.
Mosquito bite sensitivity can lead to allergic reactions to mosquito saliva, which can range from mild to severe. This is most commonly seen in cats. Dogs can also catch a stunning array of diseases from mosquitoes.
Unfortunately, chemical protection from mosquito bites can sometimes be worse than the risks of mosquito bites. Using the right products is critical. Always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. Here are some of mine:
Don’t use products that contain DEET (in OFF products) or picaridin on either dogs or cats.
Don’t use any products on cats that are labeled for dogs.
Don’t use any pyrethrin- or permethrin-containing products on cats.
Don’t use any non-name brand, questionably-labeled products you might buy on the internet, feed store or pet store, regardless of their claims.
Don’t use undiluted essential oils directly on your pets, as they are way more sensitive to their liver-toxic effects than we are.
Do dilute your essential oils for use on dogs. I use just a few drops of rosemary or geranium in a spray bottle mixed with 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar and 2 cups of water.
Do ask your veterinarian about the following products:
- Bug Soother
- Avon’s Skin So Soft
- K-9 Advantix
- Vectra 3D
Do note that no product is 100 percent effective, which is why it’s crucial for pet people to understand that limited exposure to the out-of-doors, especially during dawn and dusk, is strongly recommended.
Ask your veterinarian for additional information on mosquito prevention and to learn which products he or she recommends.