Mosquito Repellent for Dogs: Safe and Effective Options

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs: Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying – they can also spread dangerous diseases to your dog. As a pet owner, you’ll want to take precautions to protect your furry friend.

Some of the illnesses mosquitoes transmit to dogs include:

  • Heartworm disease. This is a serious condition caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart and blood vessels. It can lead to heart failure and death if left untreated. The only way dogs get heartworms is through mosquito bites.
  • West Nile virus. While rare, dogs can become infected with this virus from mosquito bites. Symptoms include fever, confusion, lack of coordination, and seizures. There is no treatment, so prevention is key.
  • Zika virus. Again uncommon, but possible for dogs to contract from mosquitoes. This virus may not cause symptoms in dogs, but could still be transmitted to humans from an infected dog’s saliva.

As you can see, mosquitoes pose some very real health threats to our canine companions. The good news is there are several effective repellents and preventatives you can use to protect your dog.

Talk to your vet about heartworm medication and vaccinations. You should also apply EPA-registered insect repellents made for dogs before going outside, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Reapply as directed.

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

Natural Mosquito Repellents for Dogs

Dogs can also suffer from mosquito bites, and the natural repellents that work for humans can also help protect your pup. Here are some easy, natural options to try:

1. Essential Oils

Certain essential oils, like citronella, lavender, peppermint and lemongrass oil act as natural insect repellents. Add a few drops of oil to a spray bottle with water and lightly mist your dog’s fur before going outside. You can also put a few drops of oil on a bandana or cloth and tie it around your dog’s neck. Be sure to avoid oil contact with eyes and sensitive areas. Always do a patch test on your dog’s skin first to check for any negative reactions.

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2. Apple Cider Vinegar

The strong smell of apple cider vinegar naturally repels mosquitoes and other insects. Add a tablespoon of ACV to your dog’s water bowl or spray it directly onto their coat before going out. Reapply every few hours for maximum protection.

3. Neem Oil

Neem oil comes from the neem tree and has natural insecticidal properties. Add a few drops of neem essential oil to a spray bottle of water and spray onto your dog’s coat, avoiding sensitive areas. You can also find neem oil shampoos and sprays formulated for dogs that provide protection for up to 7 days.

4. Coconut Oil

Not only is coconut oil great for a dog’s skin and coat, but it also acts as a natural repellent against mosquitoes, fleas, ticks and other biting insects when applied topically. Melt a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil and rub into your dog’s coat, especially behind the ears, around the tail and paws. The oil will naturally repel insects and leave your dog’s coat soft and glossy. Reapply every few days.

These natural repellents, when used properly and in moderation, can help make your dog less appealing to mosquitoes and other biting insects. Be sure to also check with your vet before using any essential oils on dogs, especially on very young or pregnant dogs. Natural is not always the same as completely safe, so you want to take proper precautions.

Chemical Mosquito Repellents for Dogs

When it comes to preventing mosquito bites on your dog, chemical repellents can be very effective. You have a few options to choose from:

  • Permethrin is a popular insecticide and repellent used on dogs. It kills and repels mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Permethrin products are available as sprays, wipes, and spot-ons that you apply directly to your dog’s fur. The effects can last for several weeks with one application. Just be sure to avoid applying permethrin to cats, as it can be toxic to them.
  • Picaridin is an odorless chemical similar to the natural compound piperine found in pepper plants. Picaridin repels mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects and can be applied as a spray-on repellent for dogs. The effects typically last for 8-12 hours. Picaridin is a good choice if you want to avoid the smell of DEET.
  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is a very effective insect repellent used in many products for humans and dogs. DEET repels mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, and other insects. DEET sprays, wipes, and spot-ons for dogs can provide protection for 4-8 hours depending on the concentration. DEET may irritate some dogs, so do a patch test on their skin first and avoid contact with eyes.
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Essential oils like citronella, lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint are natural insect repellents. You can find sprays, wipes, and spot-on treatments for dogs that contain essential oils. They tend to be very safe but may require more frequent reapplication to remain effective, at least once every 2-4 hours. The scent of some essential oils may also bother certain dogs.

When using any chemical mosquito repellent on dogs, be sure to follow the directions carefully and reapply as directed. Avoid overapplying, especially on small breed dogs. Always supervise your dog after application to make sure they do not lick or chew the product. With regular use of an EPA-registered repellent according to the label, you can help keep mosquitoes and other biting bugs away from your dog all season long.


Are mosquito repellents safe for dogs?

Most mosquito repellents designed specifically for dogs are safe when used as directed. However, some human repellents containing DEET can be toxic to dogs, especially in high concentrations. It’s best to use a repellent formulated for dogs that contains natural essential oils like citronella, lemongrass, peppermint or eucalyptus. These are effective yet gentle. You can also apply mosquito repellent wipes, sprays or spot-on treatments with the same natural essential oils.

How often should I apply mosquito repellent to my dog?

For the best protection, apply mosquito repellent to your dog before they go outside. Reapply every 4 to 6 hours to ensure full coverage, especially if your dog goes swimming or has a bath. Don’t forget to spray their ears, face and belly—mosquitoes love these areas! For spot-on repellents or wipes, reapply as directed.

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Are there any signs my dog has mosquito bites?

Some dogs may show no symptoms from mosquito bites, while others can have an allergic reaction. Signs of mosquito bites in dogs include:

  • Red, swollen bumps on the skin, especially the ears, face and belly.
  • Excessive licking, scratching or chewing at the bite site.
  • Hives, rashes or lesions from an allergic reaction.
  • Swelling of the muzzle, face, ears or eyes. Seek vet care immediately if this occurs.
  • Lethargy or loss of appetite from discomfort.

How can I relieve mosquito bite discomfort in dogs?

To relieve minor discomfort from mosquito bites, you can:

  • Apply a cold compress such as a washcloth with ice for 10-15 minutes, a few times a day.
  • Give an oral antihistamine, like Benadryl. The typical dosage is 1 mg per pound of body weight, two to three times a day.
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or aloe vera gel to the bite site to reduce inflammation and soothe the skin.
  • Gently bathe your dog to remove any irritating saliva from the mosquito.
  • See your vet for prescription medication if the reaction is severe or does not improve.

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