Insects are a pain for humans – literally – but what about for dogs and cats? Fleas are the most talked about worry for our four-legged friends, but they are not the only pests to our pets. Our poor pups can suffer from bug bites and stings just as much as we do, if not more so.
To help pet owners navigate these flying foes, our Bug Bite Thing did the research for you. We put together information on how bugs can bug man’s (and woman’s) best friend, plus tips on how to provide protection.
How Mosquito Bites Affect Dogs and Cats
Though owners may not always notice when it happens, mosquitoes bite pets. There are different species of mosquitoes that can affect almost every type of creature. They can even harm birds, fish and reptiles, although mammals seem to have it the worst due to the high levels of carbon dioxide they exhale like humans.
The insects’ irritants can be just as itchy for dogs and cats, who often have a more difficult time than humans when resisting the urge to scratch them. The rougher scratching, biting and licking in an attempt to relieve the discomfort can sometimes lead to infection, so it’s important for pet owners to keep watch if they think their animals have been bitten.
Not only can mosquito bites be annoying to dogs and cats, but they have the potential to cause one of the most serious and common mosquito-borne illnesses in animals: heartworm. This disease is mostly spread by mosquitoes and while it usually occurs in wild animals, it is important to take prevention actions to keep pets safe, especially if they live much of their lives outdoors.
Stinging Insects’ Impact on House Pets
Bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are known to catch the eye of curious pets who often love to chase them around the yard or garden. Unfortunately, these stinging insects will not hesitate to attack any animal that gets too close, especially if it seems to cause a threat to its life or pollinating job. Even worse, these inquisitive pets usually end up stung on their face, or sadly, in their mouths.
Dogs and cats suffer from a local reaction similar to that of humans, which can include mild swelling, pain, redness, heat and itching. In most cases, the irritation goes away within a day or two.
Bees can cause extra annoyances because they have barbed stingers that detach, leaving behind a lasting and painful reminder in the animal’s skin. Wasps and hornets do not typically leave behind their stingers, but if they are provoked, they can sting multiple times, unlike bees.
While we have not tested the Bug Bite Thing suction tool on animals and therefore cannot recommend using it for such, if a stinger remains, this could be a good moment to pull out the device to use its stinger scraper (located on the handles). To use it, gently scrape it along the skin, the same way you would use it on a person. The scraper is a helpful feature in times like this, as pinching the stinger with fingers or tweezers can inadvertently squeeze more venom into the skin.
8 Tips for Protecting Your Pets from Pests
Keep pets indoors during peak hours and seasons.
We don’t want you to keep your dog in a bubble to keep him bite-free, but it is important to be aware of mosquitoes when walking through uncut lawns and marshy areas. This is especially true at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Need to keep your dogs and cats outdoors? Give them a space with a screen to keep them protected from insects.
Monitor indoor spaces in the winter.
Just because a pet lives indoors, does not mean it is 100 percent safe from bugs. Mosquitoes look to escape the cold weather in winter, so review damp basements, under-sink areas and bathrooms to make sure they do not become seasonal hideouts for insects.
Make sure outdoor pets have space to run.
If you have a garden or blossoming plants, chances are, bees are not far behind. Give your pets space to move quickly in case stinging insects get too close. Never keep them in a kennel or area that is close to a hive or pollinating area.
Change feeding bowls often.
By now, you probably already know to remove standing water from your yard since mosquitoes use it as a breeding ground. One thing pet owners often forget, however, is to consistently change the water in feeding bowls placed outside. Stagnant water – even that left for a day or two – can lead to more bugs ready to pounce on your pet.
Keep mosquito-repelling, dog-safe plants in your yard.
Gardeners often like to add plants that repel mosquitoes and other aphids, but if you have a furry friend, make sure these additions are on the list of dog-safe plants. Some plants, such as citronella and geranium, are toxic togs.
Check with the veterinarian before using repellents.
DEET is not safe to use on animals and picaridin is also not recommended. There are some repellents that claim to be pet-friendly, as well as some more natural DIY products, but we always recommend consulting a vet before choosing to use any of these products, as some ingredients can cause pets to get sick.
Soothe your furry companion with a cold compress.
If your prevention efforts don’t all pan out as you’d hoped and your pet suffers a bite or sting, you can help reduce their swelling with a cool compress.
Watch for allergic reactions to bites and stings.
Just like humans, most bites and stings cause pets no more than irritation, but there’s always a possibility of a rare allergic reaction. If the spot becomes more serious, symptoms usually develop within a few minutes to a half-hour from the time of the bite or sting.
In addition to these recommendations, our blog’s general tips for mosquito prevention will also help create a safer space for your pets. While we wish we could do more for your furry friends, we can provide you relief, at least! Make sure to have one of our new Bug Bite Thing tools on your keyring if you become the feeding grounds for insects.