Take the Lead :: Professional Scituate pet sitting, Scituate dog walking, and Scituate pet sitters serving all of South Shore Massachusetts and surrounding areas of Cohasset, Marshfield, Norwell, Pembroke, Hanover, and Hull, MA!

Mosquito: The Deadly Danger Waiting for Your Pet

The summer season is one of the favorites of kids, adults, and pets alike.  The warm weather and sunshine, the fresh breeze and blue skies, the endless outdoor activities – all of it is just beckoning to be enjoyed as much as possible.  But, do you know one tiny pest that causes BIG problems for pet owners across the world?  MOSQUITOES!

If you were under the impression that our pets are protected from mosquito bites because of their thick layer of fur, we are sorry to be the ones to tell you that you are wrong.  Cats and dogs are just as susceptible to the itchy mosquito bites as we are, and can suffer some deadly consequences, too.

SO MUCH DANGER IN SUCH A LITTLE PACKAGE

Mosquitoes act as tiny terrorists in the insect world.  They fly from host to host, sucking blood and leaving behind diseases and infection.  The most common dangers for our pets that mosquitoes carry are the West Nile and Zika viruses.  Scientists are unsure if our pets are able to contrac the Zika virus…yet.  Another threat is heartworm.  Heartworms travel through the bloodstream, which is how the mosquito is able to carry it.  The worm larvae is then spread to the next host to be bitten by the infected mosquito.

The heartworm larvae takes their course through the bloodstream to the heart of the dog, where it begins to clog the heart with more and more worms feeding from the blood.  The dog may seem lethargic, get out of breath easily, and experience coughing and restlessness.  Untreated, heartworm can be fatal.

WHAT TO DO TO KEEP YOUR PETS SAFE

Other than keeping your pet in a protective bubble, how are you supposed to enjoy the great outdoors without the risk of a mosquito bite?

One way is to avoid the peak mosquito times, which are dawn and dusk.  Take morning walks after the sun has risen and before it sets.  Humid weather brings mosquitoes out in droves, so take extra precautions when the humidity levels are high.

If your schedule forces you to specific walk times during dawn or dusk, making a natural insect repellent that you AND your dog can wear is the first line of defense.

DIY insect repellents can be made from apple cider vinegar, essential oils, witch hazel, and other products already stocked in your home.

Here’s a quick dog AND cat-safe insect repellent recipe to try:

All you’ll need to get started are 6 lemons, 1 quart of water, and a pot!

  • Cut all lemons in half and place them in water in a pot to bring to a boil.
  • Remove the pot from heat and allow lemons to steep for two hours.
  • Strain any pulp or seeds, and pour water from pot into spray bottle.
  • Spritz your dog or cat’s fur lightly with the water before going outdoors.
  • Reapply every 2-3 hours, as needed while outside.

Lemons are non-toxic to pets and will not harm them if they lick any off of their fur.  If using lemon essential oil instead of fresh lemons, DO NOT use on cats.  Cats are extremely sensitive to essential oils and should only be exposed to them under the supervision of a trained professional.

If you live near woods, a pond or simply have more than just a few mosquitoes, you may need a more potent deterrent to protect your pet.  In that case, try this recipe:

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • A handful of your favorite insect-repelling herb

Bring the ACV to a boil then add in your herbs.  Pour the herbs and ACV into a bottle to store.  Steep the herbs for at least a week, giving the bottle a good shake daily.  After a week, give the bottle one last shake before spritzing on your dog.

Some herbs safe to use for dogs that repel insects include lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, citronella, clove leaf, neem leaf, rosemary, or sage.

You can also choose an essential oil such as lemon eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, peppermint, or bergamot to add to witch hazel for another easy insect-repellent spray.  You can use this and the other sprays for you and your dog.

Simply add 15-20 drops of your favorite oil to 2 tablespoons of witch hazel and 1 tablespoon of a carrier oil (such as olive or almond oil) and shake to combine.

PLEASE NOTE:

  • Essential oils should NEVER be used neat, or not diluted, with pets. Always mix essential oils with a carrier oil before applying.  Essential oils should also NEVER be used with cats without the guidance of someone trained in essential oils for pets.

  • NEVER use any human insect repellent sprays on your pets. Most insect repellents are made with chemicals, such as DEET, that are toxic and can be deadly to pets.  Be sure your pet does not lick you or any part of your body while you are wearing insect repellents and contact a vet immediately if he does.

The easiest way to protect our pets from these pests this summer is to protect our yards and homes.  Not sure how to do that?

Don’t worry – this blog right here has all the info on creating a safe haven from bugs at your home this season!