Mosquito Repellent for Dogs: The Complete Guide for Pet Owners (2023)

Table of Contents

Why Mosquito Repellent for Dogs is Important

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs: The Complete Guide for Pet Owners (1)

A mosquito repellent for dogs is important because these pests are more than a nuisance. Namely, mosquito bites are painful, and mosquitoes infected with certain diseases serve as vectors meaning they transmit the pathogens to dogs.

Vector-borne diseases (Anaplasmosis, Lyme Disease, Eastern Equine Encephalitis) are severe and harder to treat than to prevent. Therefore, using insect repellents is critical for protecting your dog.

Depending on where you live, and which vectors (mosquitoes, ticks, fleas) are active in your area, your dog might be needing seasonal or year-round protection. Which approach is best is something you need to discuss with your trusted veterinarian.

Mosquitos Transmit Diseases to Dogs

Different mosquito species transmit different diseases. Some of them are widespread, while others are endemic to certain parts of the world. Here is a short review of some of the more common mosquito-borne diseases in dogs.

West Nile Virus. Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile Virus when feeding on the blood of infected birds. Then, they transfer the virus through their bites to dogs (as well as humans and other animals). West Nile Virus in dogs causes encephalitis (brain inflammation) and manifests with behavioral changes, posture changes, and convulsions. Compared to humans and other animals, dogs seem to be more resistant to West Nile Virus.

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Heartworms. Canine Heartworm is a widespread concern. When an infected mosquito bites a dog, they transmit parasitic larvae known as Dirofilariasis. Over the course of six months, these larvae begin to mature into adults. Then, the mature worms migrate and impact the heart and its major blood vessels.

Tularemia. Also known as Rabbit’s fever, Tularemia is a bacterial infection caused by Francisella tularensis. The bacteria can be transmitted via several mechanisms including mosquito bites. In most cases, the infection is self-limiting and manifests with lethargy, poor appetite, and mild fever episodes. On rarer occasions, it can cause draining abscesses, eye inflammations, and swollen lymph nodes.

Do Dogs Need Pet-Friendly Mosquito Repellent?

Yes, to protect your dog from mosquitoes and other bugs, you need products made explicitly for canines. You must never use cat products on dogs and the other way around. Also, it is vital not to use human products as they often contain chemicals that are toxic or otherwise harmful to dogs. In fact, if you have applied a repellent on yourself, you should not pet your dog or let it lick your hands.

Mosquito Repellent Ingredients to Avoid

Just because some products offer efficient mosquito protection does not mean they are safe for dogs. Sadly, many over-the-counter mosquito repellents for dogs contain chemicals that are harmful or even toxic to pets. Here is a short review of the ingredients you need to avoid.

DEET. DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is an active ingredient in bug repellents for humans (causes no harm in concentrations lower than 30%). However, DEET is highly toxic to pets (according to the ASPCA to both dogs and cats). DEET triggers digestive tract upset (diarrhea, vomiting), inflammation of the airways, and neurological issues (tremors, seizures). Therefore, the use of DEET-containing products in dogs is a no-go.

Garlic. Many homemade pest repellents feature a common and readily available ingredient, garlic. While it is true that garlic is harmful to external parasites, keep in mind that it is also toxic to dogs. Garlic contains thiosulfate, which causes damage to the red blood cells. The damaged red blood cells are then removed from circulation resulting in anemia.

Citronella. Citronella is one of the most popular natural mosquito repellents. However, the citronella plant is toxic to dogs. Never use citronella candles, oils, and other products around your dog. Also, if you have citronella plants in the garden, make sure your dog cannot access them. When applied topically, citronella irritates the skin and, if ingested, wreaks havoc on the dog’s digestive system.

Geranium. Based on the ASPCA‘s report, the geranium plant is not extremely toxic. However, its essential oil is because it contains geranium and linalool. Both geranium and linalool are alcohols and cause contact dermatitis and after ingestion inflammation of the mouth and GI tract (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lack of appetite) and depression.

Is There a Safe Mosquito Repellent for Dogs?

Yes, there are safe mosquito repellents for dogs. Whether a mosquito repellent for dogs is safe or not depends on the ingredients. This does not necessarily mean that natural products are always good. For example, some natural oils are harmful, while certain traditional chemicals are safe for dogs.

In general, natural repellents are more rarely associated with side effects, but on the downside, they require more frequent application as they have shorter-lasting residual efficacy. However, neither natural-based nor chemical-based products offer 100% protection. They minimize the risk of bug bites, but they do not prevent it completely.

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Safe Mosquito Repellent Products for Dogs

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs: The Complete Guide for Pet Owners (2)

A high-quality mosquito repellent for dogs is not hard to find. In fact, the modern pet market offers some great bug repellents. They are formulated specifically for dogs and are pretty efficient. Plus, in addition to keeping mosquitoes off, they also protect against ticks and fleas. Here are some popular mosquito repellent for dogs options.

K9 Advantix Flea and Tick Treatment for Dogs. K9 Advantix II is a vet-recommended and broad -spectrum product with three active ingredients, including imidacloprid, pyriproxyfen, and permethrin. It protects from several ectoparasites such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, chewing lice, and biting flies. The spot-on treatment starts working within 12 hours and offers protection that lasts up to four weeks. On the downside, it is not safe to use on cats and can be costly.

Biospot Active Care Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs. BioSpot can kill and repel mosquitos, fleas (all life stages), ticks, mites, biting lice and flies. The shampoo is made with three ingredients, including S-methoprene, pyrethrins, and piperonyl butoxide. It is safe for dogs over 12 weeks of age and, according to the manufacturer, protects for 28 days. We should note that there are some user complaints that the repelling effects do not last as long as claimed.

Vectra Flea & Tick Spot Treatment for Dogs. Vectra 3D is an easy-to-use, fast-acting, and long-lasting mosquito repellent. It can also kill and repel fleas, ticks, mites, biting lice and flies. The quick-drying and non-greasy spot-on solution is made with dinitefuran, pyriproxyfen, and permethrin. Plus, it is waterproof and protects against bugs for one month. As with most topical products, it is not safe for cats and can be pricey.

Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs. The Vet’s Best Topical Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs (8 oz) kills fleas, flea eggs, and ticks and repels mosquitoes. Featuring natural ingredients such as peppermint oil, eugenol (clove plants), and plant-derived sodium lauryl sulfate, the product is safe for puppies over 12 weeks of age and can be used on furniture and outdoor spaces. However, it needs a frequent application to ensure lasting repelling effects.

Natural Mosquito Repellents for Dogs

Mosquito Repellent for Dogs: The Complete Guide for Pet Owners (4)

If you do not like mainstream, traditional chemicals, there are some natural ways of keeping mosquitoes and others pests at bay. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best natural insect repellents for dogs.

DIY Mosquito Repellent for Dogs. If you are willing to invest some time and effort, you can make your own mosquito repellent using simple ingredients that are safe for pets while being efficient against bugs. Here is a recipe for a simple DIY mosquito repellent for dogs:

  • 10-12 ounces of witch hazel
  • A few drops of lemon eucalyptus or lemongrass oil
  • A few spoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 5 to 7 ounces of distilled water.

After mixing the ingredients, shake them well, and for easy application, put the solution in a spray bottle. The size of the spraying bottle should correspond to your dog’s size (misting a large dog with a small bottle can be challenging).

Essential Oils. Certain essential oils can be used as natural pest repellents for dogs. However, there are two things you must consider. First, not all natural oils are safe, and second, essential oils are too strong for dogs and need to be diluted.

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The group of dog-friendly and bug-repelling essential oils include verbena oil, neem oil, fennel oil, cedar oil, thyme oil, cinnamon oil, rosemary oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, eucalyptus lemon oil, and lavender oil.

To reduce the oil’s potency, make sure you dilute it in a carrier like, for example, grapeseed oil. One drop of essential oil must be diluted with one milliliter of carrier oil. If using multiple oils, make sure you add 1 ml of carrier per each drop of essential oil.

Basil Plant. The basil plant is one of the most popular natural mosquito repellents. The basil plant contains volatile compounds which interfere with the mosquitoes’ sensors rendering their ability to find and recognize meals.

Lemon Balm Plant. The lemon balm plant repels both mosquitoes and gnats. This is because the lemon balm plant contains citronellal. Citronellal has a strong lemony scent which these bugs find highly repulsive.

Catnip. The characteristic odor of the catnip comes from its essential oil called nepetalactone. Interestingly, nepetalactone is around ten times stronger at repelling mosquitoes than DEET (the most widely used chemical in insect repellents).

Finally, there is no such thing as best repelling traditional chemicals or best natural mosquito repellent for dogs. Neither the mainstream nor the natural insect repellents are 100% foolproof, and every product has its pros and cons. To ensure you are giving your dog the best mosquito bites protection, consult with your veterinarian as the information in this article is educational.




How do I get rid of mosquitoes without harming my dog? ›

These common, mosquito-repelling plants are also safe for pets:
  1. Basil.
  2. Catnip.
  3. Lemon balm.
  4. Rosemary.

Does mosquito repellent work on dogs? ›

The answer is 'no' — never use human insect repellent on your dog. The two most common ingredients in insect repellent for humans are DEET and Picaridin, which can cause vomiting, staggering, irritation and seizures. For this reason, you should also not let your dog lick your skin after applying bug spray.

Does apple cider vinegar repel mosquitoes on dogs? ›

Apple cider vinegar is a common household item you may easily have on hand. When applied to a dog's fur, the smell can deter mosquitos from pestering your dog. Simply apply the ACV to your pup's neck, collar, torso, tail, belly, or overall coat. This simple fix may even repel fleas.

What is the most effective repellant base to discourage mosquito bites on human and pets? ›

Lemon eucalyptus oil

Used since the 1940s, lemon eucalyptus oil is one of the more well-known natural repellents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have approved eucalyptus oil as an effective ingredient in mosquito repellent.

Does coconut oil repel mosquitoes on dogs? ›

Coconut oil itself is not a repellent, Zhu emphasized. However, the coconut oil-derived free fatty acid mixture—lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid as well as their corresponding methyl esters—provides strong repellency against blood-sucking insects.

What can I put in my dogs water to keep mosquitoes out? ›

Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis is an all-natural soil bacterium that prevents mosquito development in water, and it's perfectly safe for pets to drink. You can add a mosquito dunk formulation of B. thuringiensis israelensis to water gardens, ponds or fountains; repeat the treatment every month.

Will vinegar repel mosquitoes? ›

Acetic acid makes vinegar an excellent tool for pest control, repelling some of the most common backyard nuisances and even killing weaker insects. It's most effective against ants, spiders, and mosquitos.

Is lavender toxic to dogs? ›

Can dogs eat lavender? No, never feed your dog lavender buds or essential oil. They both contain linalool, a compound that is toxic to dogs in large amounts.

Can I rub citronella on my dog? ›

Matejka recommends refraining from using citronella-based sprays on your dog because they have the potential to cause harmful side effects. "Since citronella sprays are applied topically, they can cause skin irritation or rash, especially in high concentrations," she says.

How often should I spray my dog with apple cider vinegar? ›

Once a week, spray your dog's fur with the mixture. Although not scientifically proven to get rid of flea, the acidic taste of the vinegar may repel fleas and other parasites. If your dog dislikes being sprayed, dip a washcloth into the mixture and rub your dog's coat. There is no need to rinse your dog afterward.

What smell mosquitoes hate? ›

Certain Natural Scents

Mosquitoes are turned off by several natural scents: cinnamon, peppermint, cedar, citronella, lemongrass, patchouli, catnip, lavender, and more. Find a favorite, and use it when you want to spend time outside.

What's the best homemade mosquito repellent? ›

You'll need half a cup of distilled water, half a cup of witch hazel, rubbing alcohol, or vinegar, and 30 to 40 drops of essential oil of your choice. (Rubbing alcohol may be irritating if sprayed on the skin, and witch hazel is the gentlest option for sprays.)

What naturally keeps mosquitoes from biting? ›

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE).

This is a natural, plant-based oil. It works as well at preventing mosquito bites as products that contain lower concentrations (6.65%) of DEET. PMD is a version of oil of lemon eucalyptus that is produced in a lab. Repellents containing OLE or PMD may provide up to 2 hours of protection.

Is vinegar safe for dogs? ›

Dogs can have distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (ACV) as long as you use it in moderation. Serve your dog one tablespoon of diluted vinegar in their water bowl or let it soak into their kibble. Keep in mind there is always the possibility your specific dog might have an allergy or intolerance to vinegar.

Does Dawn dish soap keep mosquitoes away? ›

The idea that dishwashing liquid is a mosquito repellant is a myth, and it's inaccurate. That doesn't mean that dishwashing liquid isn't useful for mosquito control. Because of its ability to reduce surface tension, a thin film on water can drown both larvae and adult mosquitos.

How much vinegar do I need to keep mosquitoes away? ›

Apple cider vinegar: It's a truly multipurpose remedy that can help with so many things, including mosquitoes. Add equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Use it on areas where mosquitoes tend to hang out. You can even spray it on yourself to keep them away.

Is peppermint harmful to dogs? ›

But is peppermint safe for dogs? Quite the opposite: Peppermint is extremely dangerous for your pet. According to the ASPCA, eating peppermint can cause vomiting and diarrhea, among other reactions.

Is Lemongrass safe for dogs? ›

Lemongrass is toxic to dogs due to the cyanogenic glycosides and oils in the plant. Lemongrass poisoning, however, is rare in canines since dogs must ingest large quantities of the plant to trigger severe symptoms.

Is Eucalyptus safe for dogs? ›

Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are straight up toxic to pets. These are toxic whether they are applied to the skin, used in diffusers or licked up in the case of a spill.

What is the best homemade dog repellent? ›

Many store-bought dog repellents are made with apple cider vinegar, which you can use to make your own homemade solution for a fraction of the cost. To make a strong solution, mix one cup of white vinegar with two cups apple cider vinegar. Place it in a spray bottle and mist any desired areas, indoors or out.

Do vets recommend citronella collars? ›

Policy. Collars designed to inflict pain, discomfort or fear to achieve behavioural change should not be used on dogs. Examples include electronic collars, citronella and choke collars. Positive reinforcement training of dogs renders the use of such equipment unnecessary.

Does tea tree oil repel mosquitoes on dogs? ›

Some essential oils — including tea tree, neem, lemon eucalyptus, and citronella — can be useful in keeping mosquitoes and other insects away from your dogs, but it's important to ONLY USE DILUTE FORMULATIONS of these oils.

Can you make your own citronella spray for dogs? ›


To make this recipe, mix 24 teaspoons of citronella oil with two pints of water and put it in a spray bottle. You can use the diluted citronella immediately. Just be sure to give the bottle a good shake before each use.

Can I put apple cider vinegar directly on my dog? ›

Never give undiluted apple cider vinegar directly to your dog. For skin and ear issues, topical use is ideal. Use a diluted 50/50 water and apple cider vinegar mixture in a spray bottle or on a cotton ball to clean out the ears.

Do I have to rinse apple cider vinegar off my dog? ›

Give your dog a quick second rinsing with clear warm water to get any vinegar scent out of your dog's fur. Use this rinse to get off any residue from the vinegar and shampoo. Once your dog is washed and double rinsed with water and apple cider vinegar and then water again, towel dry him.

What does it mean when dogs lick their paws? ›

Dogs lick their paws as part of self-grooming routines, however excessive licking could be a red flag. While paw licking is a common behaviour, some additional reasons your dog is licking their paw include anxiety, stress, obsessive behaviour, flea allergies or boredom.

What essential oils are safe for dogs? ›

Here are some common dog-friendly essential oils:
  • Lavender.
  • Cornmint.
  • Cedar/Cedarwood.
  • Bergamot.
  • Lemongrass.
  • Rosemary.
  • Geranium.
  • Citronella.
21 Oct 2022

Is peppermint oil safe for dogs? ›

Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to dogs. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.

How long after spraying for mosquitoes can I let my dogs out? ›

Your furry friends do not need to leave completely. Just give the products time to dry before letting your cats and dogs have free rein through the treated areas (about 30 minutes to an hour for outside treatments and 2-3 hours for inside treatments).

Can I rub essential oils on my dog? ›

Applying oils topically can be irritating to the skin — yours and your dog's. This is counterproductive for treating skin conditions and can add to your dog's discomfort. Therefore, without proper professional guidance, it's best to avoid using essential oils topically or directly on your dog.

What essential oil should never be used on pets? ›

Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are straight up toxic to pets. These are toxic whether they are applied to the skin, used in diffusers or licked up in the case of a spill.

Is the smell of lavender harmful to dogs? ›

Lavender is toxic to dogs, especially when consumed. However, the scent can also cause respiratory symptoms in some dogs because they have a stronger sense of smell. Both the lavender plant and essential oils can be dangerous for your pet.

What happens if my dog is exposed to peppermint oil? ›

Peppermint oil is toxic to dogs and can cause mild to severe symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, and even lethargy. Peppermint oil poisoning can be fatal, especially if it's not treated as soon as possible. If you believe your dog has consumed peppermint oil, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Can dogs tolerate the smell of peppermint oil? ›

While you are anticipating a relaxing atmosphere, your dog smells the opposite. There are reasons for your dog not liking certain smells, and he's smart not to like peppermint because while it might be your favorite scent or flavor, it's toxic to him.

What happens if my dog licks mosquito repellent? ›

Any product that contains any levels of DEET can be toxic to dogs. They may vomit, stagger or have seizures after ingesting, so don't use DEET products on yourself or others when around dogs and cats who might lick your skin.

Can dogs get sick from mosquito spray? ›

Most of the common bug sprays and mosquito repellents for people contain DEET, in varying concentrations. DEET can be very toxic for dogs, leading to vomiting, staggering, seizures, and other concerning problems.

What is a natural mosquito repellent? ›

Several natural essential oils can be used as a mosquito repellent, including cinnamon oil, citronella oil, peppermint oil, catnip oil, eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, neem oil, lemongrass oil, soybean oil, tea tree oil, geranium oil, thyme oil, and rosemary oil.


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