It’s summer, but to us dog owners we know what season it really is: flea/tick/mosquito season. It’s that time of the year when you become wary of letting your dog walk through ominous-looking grass and uncut lawns. After all, mosquito bites carry deadly consequences and can transmit diseases like heartworm and West Nile. But if encasing your dog in a protective, unpenetrable bubble doesn’t work for you, here are some ways to keep your dog safe and bite-free all summer.
DON’T use human insect repellent on your dog
Human bug sprays are great for us, but they’re toxic for our furry friends. DEET, the main ingredient in most drugstore bug sprays, can cause vomiting, seizures, and skin irritation when exposed to dogs.
When applying bug spray, make sure your dog doesn’t lick your skin, and if they do, contact your vet immediately.
DO avoid leaving stagnant water around your home
Mosquitoes, much like humans, need water to live. Restricting their access to water is the best way to keep adult mosquitoes from breeding and, thus, unleashing more mosquitoes into your home.
To prevent this, eliminate any standing water around your home (like the puddle of water behind your air conditioner or the dish of three-day-old water under your plants). You might also want to empty your dog’s water bowl at night when you know they won’t be drinking it.
DON’T walk your dog during peak mosquito times
Just like how us humans have rush hours, mosquitoes have their own time of the day when they’re the most active, and those times are at dawn and dusk. Avoid walking your dog during these hours and they’ll be less likely to be bitten.
DO buy insect-repellent products made for dogs
Fairly self-explanatory, but stick to products that are made for dogs. That way you know they’re safe to use. Most flea and tick products are formulated to repel mosquitoes as well.
K9 Advantix and Bio Spot are two examples of great triple-action products that should keep your dog free of bites all summer long. You can also buy sprays and other insect repellents from your pet store.
DON’T ignore natural remedies
If you’re not comfortable using chemicals on yourself, let alone your dog, there are lots of natural remedies for mosquito prevention that work just as well as the chemical ones. Lemon eucalyptus oil is an effective repellent that keeps mosquitoes (and possibly other people) at bay with its repugnant smell.
Geranium oil and soybean oil when mixed together can also be used as a repellent. Although you can find products with these ingredients in health food stores, you can also mix together these oils yourself and make your own D.I.Y. bug spray.
DO fix any broken window screens in your home
Most mosquitoes get into the home through open windows or broken window screens. If you wake up with new bites on your arms, your windows might not be protecting you and your dog-roommate as much as you think.
Be wary of any holes or tears in screens that might be letting bugs in. And don’t forget to fill in the gap between the air conditioner and the window frame, too. Follow all these tips and you’ll have a healthy, bite-free dog all summer long. Frolic away!