Buying bug sprays, lighting tiki torches, and setting out citronella candles are what most of people do to battle mosquitoes. But how can we protect our dogs and cats? Are they susceptible to mosquito bites and illnesses, too? Yes! Here at Mosquito Magnet®, we want to make sure you and your pets have a healthy, happy summer, so let’s talk about the problems mosquitoes create for your pets!
Since dogs, cats, horses and many other pets also produce high levels of carbon dioxide when they exhale, they too are strong mosquito magnets, just like humans. A mosquito bite can be just as irritating to an animal as it is to a person, and some critters may experience a potentially serious allergic reaction. Animals are also susceptible to certain mosquito-borne diseases. That’s why mosquito control for pets and livestock is so important.
The most common mosquito-transmitted affliction that affects dogs and cats is heartworm. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it draws in heartworm larvae – also called microfilaria. Then, when the mosquito bites a new animal, it often injects the microfilaria into the skin of a new host. For cats and dogs, that means the start of a heartworm infection.
Once inside the animal’s body, the larvae will mature into adult heartworms over a period of 3-4 months. Adult heartworms can grow as large as 12 inches and can survive inside a dog or cat for several years.
When it gets that big, the heartworm can cause severe injury to the dog’s lungs, major arteries and even the heart – which can lead to death. While a blood test can determine if the dog does have heartworm, prevention is the best way to save your dog from a lot of pain and save your wallet from hefty medical bills.
The best method to protect your pets from this serious illness is prevention. This can include reducing local mosquito populations and administering a heartworm vaccine to your pets, which are available over-the-counter and from multiple brands.
Just like cats and dogs, horses are highly attractive targets for mosquitoes, which puts them at high risk for contracting mosquito-borne diseases. They could be at risk of contracting equine encephalitis, which comes in a variety of forms. Encephalitis is a medical term that means “inflammation of the brain.” This is a zoonotic disease (transmittable from animals to humans) which is spread by the mosquito after having bitten an infected animal, usually a bird.
The two most common forms of the affliction are Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE). They derive their names from the areas of the United States in which they are prevalent.
Both diseases can have serious health implications for horses, and they can even be fatal in some instances. Learn more about effective mosquito management for horse farms. Prevention is the best medicine, so ask your equine veterinarian about important vaccines to prevent EEE and WEE.
There is a lot you can do to make sure mosquitoes aren’t going to make your backyard their new home. You’d be surprised at the places where mosquitoes are able to lay their eggs. Begin by removing any trash or debris from your yard. This refuse -- whether its a bottle cap, candy wrapper or old tire -- can easily hold enough water to serve as a mosquito-egg nursery. Also check for areas that regularly collect water, including mud puddles, pool covers, water troughs and dog dishes.
Remember: It takes just eight days for mosquitoes to grow from egg to adult – be vigilant with your inspections!