If you've ever suffered from a mosquito bite, you'll know that these parasitic insects are a painful nuisance. You may also know that mosquitoes can also pass dangerous diseases like malaria to humans. What you may not know is that mosquitoes are also dangerous for your four-legged family members. Find out how mosquitoes can harm dogs, and learn more about the steps you can take to control these unwelcome pests.
Where you'll find mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can thrive in almost any part of the United States, except places like Alaska where the snow and freezing conditions are too harsh for the insects to survive (although some species can even survive in the Arctic Circle). That aside, the most tropical, humid parts of the country are where you are more likely to find these problematic pests.
Mosquitoes like stagnant water. Swamps, marshes and lakes are great habitats for these insects, but they don't need much water to thrive. A small pond, a septic tank or even a water-filled ditch are enough to attract these insects. If your home is near a large area of water, or you have water features in the garden, you are at high risk of mosquitoes.
The risk to dogs
The main risk to dogs comes from an unpleasant parasite called a heartworm. These microscopic parasites live in an animal's blood. If a mosquito feeds on infected blood, the insect can easily pass the parasite on to a new canine host when it bites another dog. Unfortunately, a heartworm infection could become fatal for your dog.
Heartworms live in the blood vessels and the heart of an infected animal. Over time, the heartworm will slowly grow, and one parasite can grow as long as one foot. When this happens, the heartworm can threaten your dog's health. The space that the worm takes up makes it harder for the heart to pump blood around the animal's body. A serious heartworm problem can cause heart failure or a blood clot in the animal's lungs. Both conditions can kill a dog.
To make matters worse, it's hard to successfully treat infected dogs. The available treatment contains arsenic, which can make the dog feel ill for some time. Ironically, even the treatment for heartworms can kill an infected dog.
Mosquito treatment plan
If you have a serious mosquito infestation, you may need to hire a pest control company. These experts can develop a treatment plan that will target the cause of the problem and prevent a recurrence. The pest control company will probably compile a diagram of the property that highlights all mosquito development sites. They will then put together a detailed treatment plan that will help you work out how to prevent mosquitoes getting access to water supplies that may become breeding grounds. For example, you may need to repair a broken septic tank that allows mosquitoes to get to and breed in the standing water.
You can also buy specialist products that you can add to standing water areas. These microbial insecticides kill mosquito larvae in the water and break the insects' reproductive cycle. Of course, if you can fill in or remove unwanted water features, you can also permanently remove potential breeding grounds. You can also take simple preventive measures. For example, you shouldn't leave water in the garden in a bowl or paddling pool for too long, or you may create mosquito breeding grounds.
Protecting your dog
Until you can control a mosquito problem, you should also take steps to protect your dog. Avoid walking the dog at dusk or dawn when mosquitoes are most active. You can also buy topical mosquito repellents that will keep the insects away from your animal. Don't use human insect repellents or any products that contain DEET, as this chemical can cause neurological problems in dogs. Products containing concentrated essential oils like tea tree can also harm animals.
Ideally, you should also treat your dog with a heartworm preventive. There are many medications to choose from, some of which can also protect against other parasites. You should talk to your vet about the right product for your dog. In most cases, you need to repeat the dose monthly, so it's important to choose the most effective medication.
Mosquitoes are dangerous and can spread parasites that can kill dogs. Talk to a local pest control company, such as Cavanaugh's Professional Termite & Pest Services, for information and advice about how to control mosquitoes in and around your property.