3 Natural Dog Mosquito Repellent Options
Spring has been wet and cool in most states this year and that means increased mosquito and black fly activity this summer. Those pesky bugs are a painful nuisance for you and for your dog…and mosquito bite prevention can be an important step in preventing heartworm in your dog. Luckily, there are effective ways to repel bugs without using harmful chemicals or DEET. There are many natural products available with different active ingredients so how do you know which ones work and which don’t? Here is a brief guide to help you protect your dog safely and effectively.
Lemon eucalyptus oil
The most effective natural mosquito repellent at the time of writing is Repel Lemon Eucalyptus. A 2002 study in the New England Journal of Medicine compared different synthetic chemical and herbal repellents: Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Repellent provided 120.1 minutes of mosquito protection, more than a repellent with a low concentration of the chemical DEET (Off Skintastic for Kids with 4.75% DEET provided 88.4 minutes of protection) and less than Off Deep Woods with 23.8% DEET, which provided 301.5 minutes of protection. A study by the US Department of Agriculture compared four synthetic mosquito repellents and eight natural mosquito repellents and found that Repel Lemon Eucalyptus was the most effective repellent, more so than a 7% DEET repellent.
Lemon eucalyptus oil repellents, in addition to the chemicals DEET and picaridin, have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (which means that the materials have been reviewed and approved for effectiveness and human safety) and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for mosquitoes that may carry the West Nile virus. A June 2006 Consumer Reports article stated that after conducting their own tests, Repel Lemon Eucalyptus was the best non-DEET mosquito repellent. However, volunteers criticized its odor. Repel can be found online or is available at REI, Target and Wal-Mart. They do not produce a product for dogs and the product has a strong odor, so use caution when applying.
Geranium oil and soybean oil
A repellent called Bite Blocker ranks second.The New England Journal of Medicine study found that Bite Blocker provided 94.6 minutes of protection against mosquitos. This is slightly more effective than Off Skintastic for Kids (containing 4.75% DEET), which provided 88.4 minutes of protection. The study by the United States Department of Agriculture ranked Bite Blocker number two in effectiveness after Repel. Bite Blocker was rated more effective than a synthetic 7% DEET mosquito repellent.
A well-known natural mosquito repellent. The oils from the plant are used to make lotions, sprays, and candles. A University of Guelph study assessed the effectiveness of 3% citronella candles and 5% citronella incense in protecting subjects from bites. They found that subjects who were positioned near the citronella candles had 42.3% less bites and those near the citronella incense had 24.2% fewer bites. Based on these results, citronella candles shouldn’t be used as a stand-alone repellent, although they may help in combination with topical repellents.
How To Protect Your Dog From Mosquito Bites
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.
Here are a few other key points to keep in mind when shopping for bug prevention and repellents:
- Do not use DEET products. These are meant for humans — not animals!
- Use only feline-friendly repellents, sprays and treatments. Many pet treatments are specifically designed for dogs and are too strong for cats.
- Permethrin is not safe for cats. (You should also avoid letting it contact human skin). According to International Cat Care, permethrin poisoning in cats is one of the most commonly reported poisoning in cats worldwide.
- When outside with your kitty, keep moving! It is much harder for a tick or mosquito to land on a moving target.
- Many mosquitoes are most active around dusk and dawn, so consider letting your kitty roam in the afternoon.
Limited mosquitoes from breeding in your yard and garden
You are first in line to be bitten by mosquitoes that breed in your own yard and garden! Mosquitoes can breed even in the tiniest amounts of water. Remove stagnant water so mosquitoes can’t breed
- Clean up your yard and remove anything where water can collect, such as unused pots and tyres.
- Cover or overturn trailers, wheelbarrows, boats, tools and children’s playground toys to avoid water
- Regularly clean gutters and drains so water runs freely.
- Mend leaking taps.
- Change pet drinking bowls, bird baths and vase waters at least once a week, and more regularly in very warm weather.
- Put sand around the base of pot plants.
- Keep swimming pools well maintained or empty or securely covered if not in use.
- Keep lawns and gardens trimmed back to reduce the areas where mosquitoes rest.
So, How Can I Best Protect My Dog?
Since prevention is the best way for you to keep Fido from these irksome insects, use the following guidelines to minimize risk and reduce exposure:
- Get rid of any stagnant water in your yard. Check for areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed, including buckets, dog bowls, tarps or umbrellas that may have collected rainwater, leaky irrigation systems, and anywhere else that water can collect and stand.
- Consider growing plants that naturally repel mosquitoes. Not only are they beautiful, these plants give off a distinct odor that naturally keeps mosquitoes and other pesks at bay. Some such plants (that are totally safe for dogs) include Lemongrass, Lavender, Catnip, Rosemary, and Mint. Unfortunately, while Citronella is great at naturally keeping mosquitoes away, the plant is toxic to dogs and should be kept well out of reach. Check out this article: 6 Dog-Safe Plants that Naturally Repel Mosquitoes (And other Pests!)
- Use dog-safe insect repellents. There are a variety of dog-safe mosquito repellents available in the form of sprays, wipes, and lotions that can effectively keep the tiny winged bloodsuckers at bay. Never, ever, use insect repellents made for humans as they can be toxic to your dog.
- Use dog products designed to repel mosquitoes. New to market is a huge collection of essential dog products made with a dog-safe, insect repelling material called InsectShield. InsectShield dog beds, blankets, and raised cots give your dog a comfy spot outside to rest while safely shielded from mosquitoes. Or, outfit your pup with an InsectShield bandana, t-shirt, or hoodie to keep pests away on the go. Best of all, they’ll protect you and your dog at the same time.
- Keep doors and windows closed when mosquitoes are in season. If you prefer the feel of fresh air from open windows and doors, install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
- Keep your dog indoors as much as possible. This is especially important in the early morning and early evening when mosquitoes are at their most active.
- Use a heartworm preventative. Because heartworm disease is so prevalent, every dog should be protected with a monthly heartworm preventative. Remember, preventing heartworms is easy and inexpensive while treating heartworm disease is very costly and very hard on your dog.