Summertime is for hikes and games in the park with your dog – unless you are attacked by blood sucking mosquitos. Those pesky insects can turn a delightful afternoon into an itchy next few days.
Aside from the annoying welts and itching, mosquitos carry and spread potentially deadly diseases like West Nile and Heartworm. Heartworm is the number one concern for your dog from mosquito bites. Heartworm is spread when a mosquito bites an infected animal and then bites your dog. It can be a fatal disease, if not treated immediately by your vet.
Do not use mosquito repellents with DEET on your pets. If you use that on yourself, be sure that you do not get it on your fur children. “If your dog or cat comes in contact with DEET, either orally or on their skin, they could show severe symptoms, such as vomiting, seizures, skin irritation and a staggered gait. It is very important that they be taken to a veterinarian immediately if they are exposed to DEET,” cautions Mosquito Magnet.
If you are worried about spraying your dog and family with strong chemicals, you can try a natural solution. However, only use products that are made for pets. Cats are very sensitive to essential oils and products that may be safe for dogs could be fatal to cats. Please read the bottle or container before applying.
What Is It?
Lemon eucalyptus oil comes from the lemon eucalyptus tree. The dried leaves and twigs are distilled with steam to produce an oil. It is a gift from Mother Nature.
Dr Steve Humphries, co-owns Hebe Botanicals, states, “PMD is the only only plant-based active ingredient effective enough to be approved by the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) for use in disease endemic areas.” Lemon eucalyptus oil naturally has PMD but in small amounts. Dr. Humphries believes the oil needs to be refined to increase the amount of PMD in it. “This refined oil, with a minimum of 64% PMD, is commonly referred to as ‘oil of lemon eucalyptus’ (OLE).”
Does It Work?!
The scent of lemon eucalyptus oil can be strong, but this smell deters the biting bugs. Studies have been conducted on the efficiency of the natural deterrent. The results showed lemon eucalyptus repels mosquitos for longer than DEET! “The New England Journal of Medicine found in 2002 that the herbal repellent of Repel Lemon Eucalyptus provided about two hours of protection from mosquito bites, compared to less than 1 ½ hours from DEET products.”
Another study conducted by the U.S Department of Agriculture found lemon eucalyptus the most effective repellent, even compared to other natural and synthetic options. This powerful oil even protects against mosquitos that carry the West Nile virus.
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Finally, an arm-in-cage protection test was performed on a product containing the oil. It outperformed its synthetic competition, lasting 6 hours.
If you or your dog are sensitive, there are products designed to attach to your dog’s collar or harness that hold essential oils. You could also make your dog an insect repelling bandana. These are great options to get the benefit of the oil, without the oil touching your dogs skin.
You can make up your own dog-safe mosquito spray with the recipe from CertaPet.
Add 10-12 ounces of witch hazel in a spray bottle
Add a few drops of different essential oils! Lemon eucalyptus oil is a must!
Add a few spoons of Apple cider vinegar
Add 5-7 ounces of distilled water
Give it a good shake, and spray it evenly across your dog’s coat!
How To Avoid Mosquitos
As an extra step, you can try and avoid areas that are breeding grounds for mosquitos. Also you can make sure that your backyard is free of these.
Pools of standing water: Puddles, ponds, lakes, any body of water that is stagnant is a perfect place for mosquitos to breed.
Containers that can hold water or rain water: Once again, mosquitos lay their eggs on top of water, so make sure you have as little standing water as possible in your yard.
Avoid early morning and evening hours for your hike, if possible: This is the time mosquitos are most active.
Get help from natural predators: Bats and birds are your best friends because they eat mosquitos. Encourage these predators to your property to feed by putting up bat or bird houses. If you have a pond on your property get fish. Catfish eat mosquito larvae while the greatest predator is the mosquito fish. Gambusia affinis is the most efficient at eating the larvae to control the population in the area.
Mosquitos do not have to ruin your summer. No matter what you choose to use, be careful not to get the product in your dog’s eyes. Use these simple tips to enjoy all your outdoor activities with your dog.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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