Mosquito Repellent for Dogs: A One Stop Guide

By Chelsea Hunt-Rivera / April 2, 2018
mosquito repellent for dogs

People don’t often think about dogs and cats being bitten by mosquitoes. Ticks and fleas, yes, but not mosquitoes. Dogs and cats do, however, often get bit by these bloodsucking bugs, and it’s as traumatic for them as it is for humans. The proficient pet parent is one who keeps up to date with their dog’s worm, flea and tick control. The pet parent who has a bottle of mosquito repellent for dogs however, is one who has reached Pet Parent Level: Expert.

dog and mosquito

Why Use Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

People only need one or two mosquito bites to remind them to use insect repellent. Dogs are not quite so lucky. They cannot just trot over to the bug repellent and rid themselves of the potential danger of mosquito attacks. Let us take a moment to appreciate our opposable thumbs. Pet parents need to protect their pets from mosquitoes as much as from fleas, ticks and other pests. It’s their job.

Apart from the obvious itchy discomfort which accompanies mosquito bites, mosquitoes can transfer a list of viral diseases to dogs and cats.


Some illnesses that can be transferred to dogs by mosquitoes are:

  • Venezuelan Equine Encephalomyelitis Virus
  • Eastern Equine Encephalitis
  • Tularemia
  • West Nile Virus
  • Heartworm

The West Nile Virus and Heartworm are two of the more common (and dangerous) diseases which dogs get from mosquitoes. Other mosquito borne diseases are by no means to be taken lightly as they can have fatal consequences as well. West Nile and Heartworm however, are the big ones to look out for.

Even without diseases or Heartworms, mosquito bites can be more than just itchy. Some dogs have allergic reactions to the bites. Other dogs, especially those obsessive-compulsive lickers and scratchers, can really hurt themselves when scratching the itch. The bite can also become inflamed or septic and can even result in Hotspots.

West Nile Virus in Dogs

The West Nile Virus has not been around in the U.S. for a long time. There was an outbreak in New York in 1999 and since then, the disease has been crossing state borders. In 2012, the U.S. saw its biggest ever outbreak. Unfortunately, the disease has by no means been shut down since then.

Most dogs who are infected with the virus do not become symptomatic, and even less die from the disease. People are far more likely to suffer clinical signs of the infection, so it is as important to protect yourself as it is to protect your pup.


heart worm

Heartworm is a far more dangerous ordeal than the West Nile Virus. Infected mosquitoes lay tiny little heartworm babies (larvae) in your dog, just under the skin. The larvae then make their way into the bloodstream, where they thrive and grow into foot long worms that clog up your dog’s organs. They are not called Heartworms because they live in your dog’s coat. These worms (and there can be hundreds of them in a single dog) live for years and will make your beloved fur-child’s life pretty miserable. Also, here’s a not so fun fact about Heartworms: they are present in all 50 states. Pet parents everywhere need to be vigilant when it comes to preventing Heartworms in their dogs.

Enter the insect repellent, because prevention trumps treatment. Every. Single. Time.

Picaridin, Permethrin and DEET: Know Your Active Ingredients!

Read the label before you use an insect repellent on your dog! There are a handful of active ingredients pet parents should know. Some are safe for dogs, others are not.


Picaridin is essentially a synthetic version of components found in Pepper plants. All hail the 21st century. As much as we may love a natural approach, spraying on some Picaridin sounds preferable to rubbing pepper all over yourself and your animals. Picaridin has been found to be safe for dogs and people. There is not enough scientific research to reassure pet parents that it is safe for cats. When in doubt, leave it out!


Permethrin is a common ingredient in insect repellents for dogs. It is a synthetically produced version of a natural insect repellent made from Chrysanthemums. Permethrin is safe enough for dogs and people, but not for cats. It is also often combined with other insect repelling active ingredients such as DEET.

Stay Away from the Dangerous DEET!

DEET is as toxic to dogs as Permethrin is to cats. The jury is still out on whether or not DEET is harmful for humans. However, the verdict is clear when it comes to DEET for dogs: the answer is no. DEET is not safe for dogs. Stay away from DEET!

Homemade Mosquito Repellent for Dogs

There are entire ranges of products designed to repel insects and protect pets from those nasty bites. There are even more DIY options out there for the proactive, Do-It-Yourself pet parent. To reach Pet Parent Level Expert, you need to know which ingredients are safe to use on your dog. You also need to know how to safely use all the different ingredients.

“Natural” does not equal “safe”. So, do your homework. When you think you are ready, it is time to get that spray bottle and fill it with Mother Nature’s finest ingredients. You can use anything from apple cider vinegar, to a blend of essential oils, carrier oils and herbs. Making your own all-natural mosquito repellent is a great idea!

Essential Oil Mosquito Repellent

Essential oils are a fundamentally important part of a pet parent’s arsenal. However, they need to be used safely and responsibly. Not all essential oils are safe for dogs. Additionally, some essential oils are safe, but only when diluted to a safe level. There is also the added factor, that some essential oils are safe for dogs when applied topically but are toxic when inhaled or ingested. If your dog is an obsessive licker, you may need to double check the ingredients you intend on adding to your homemade insect repellent.

Here are some of the (safe) and more effective mosquito repelling essential oils:

  • lemon eucalyptus oil
  • citronella oil
  • fennel oil
  • thyme oil
  • geranium oil
  • soy bean oil

Flies, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes will all flee in submission from the pungent wafts of Mother Nature. Not only that, if you find the right combination of essential oils and herbs, your spray will double up as a fly, flea, tick, and mite repellent. An effective natural mosquito repellent for dogs doesn’t necessarily come from a pet store. Make it at home!

Make Your Own Bug Spray

make your own bug spray

Making your own bug spray to repel mosquitoes is really easy. An added bonus is that you can use it on yourself and your family as well as on your dog. Essential oils such as lemon eucalyptus oil and citronella oil are safe for dogs. Not only are they are effective in repelling fleas, flies, ticks and mosquitoes, but they smell amazing.

You will need:

  • An empty spray bottle
  • A carrier oil such as coconut oil or witch hazel
  • Essential oils such lemon eucalyptus oil or citronella oil (or any other natural repellent that is safe for dogs)


  • Add 20-25 drops of the oil to the spray bottle
  • Add a carrier oil. 2 ounces if you are using coconut oil, or 4 ounces if you are using witch hazel.
  • Give it a good shake and test it on your own skin first. If all is well, test on a small patch of your dog’s skin. Monitor the skin to see whether there is any adverse reaction. If not: Spray away!

*Note: Double, triple, quadruple check whether the ingredients you use are safe, not only for dogs, but for cats as well. Especially if you plan on using the spray on your cats. Cats don’t tolerate the same essential oils as dogs in most cases.

Essential Oil for Mosquito Bites

healthy dog

Essential oils do not only have the power to repel insects, they can also help to soothe your dog’s itchy bites. Just be sure to dilute the oil before rubbing it onto your dog’s skin! Safety first!

Here are some essential oils with soothing properties:

  • neem oil
  • lavender oil
  • carrot seed oil
  • chamomile oil

Insects are important. The world needs insects. But pet parents need to take a stand against insects that cause trouble with their doggos. A simple spray can keep those pesky bugs at bay! It is time for pet parents to level up and buy (or make) some mosquito repellent for dogs!





What illnesses do mosquitos cause in dogs?

Is DEET safe for dogs?

How do I make my own homemade mosquito repellent?


About the author

Chelsea Hunt-Rivera

Chelsea Rivera is a Dedicated Pet Parent who loves to create amazing content for pet owners and is helping change pet wellness as the Head of Content for