Should I Use Bug Spray On My Dog?

When summer hits, you and your pup are likely spending a lot of time together outside. You're going on walks, hitting the dog park, swimming at the local lake and playing catch while it's sunny and warm. The only thing that bothers you about spending time in the great outdoors is the amount of bugs you see.

Portrait of dog on a meadow
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You may be getting bitten up by mosquitos and attacked by flies left and right, so you're making sure to apply lots of bug spray. While it's been effective, you aren't so sure how to protect your pup. Should you use some of the same bug spray on your dog as well, or would that be dangerous? All you want to do is make sure he's not getting bitten up and at risk of contracting a disease.

Don't use human bug spray on your dog

While you may have the best intentions, it's not a good idea to use human bug spray on your pup. Often, mosquito repellents and bug sprays will be made of the chemical DEET, or diethyltoluamide. While DEET is usually safe for humans, it can be toxic to dogs. It can cause them to have seizures, vomit, stagger or have other health issues.

Veterinarians warn against using human bug spray on dogs and recommend that your dog doesn't lick you if you're wearing it. When you're spraying it on yourself, make sure your dog is far away – preferably in another room entirely. If your dog gets bug spray in his eye, for instance, it could cause epiphora, corneal ulceration, lethargy and depression. If he inhales it, he could get dyspnea or his airways could become inflamed, which could only be treated with steroids, oxygen and bronchodilators.

Dog at the park
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What to use on your dog instead

The fact is that mosquitos can give your dogs the West Nile virus and heartworms, both of which are very detrimental to their health. You need to use something on your dog, especially during the summer, to keep him healthy and bug-free.

Instead of applying human bug spray or mosquito repellent, use a formula that is made specifically for dogs. Some mosquito repellent products include K9 Advantix, BioSpot and Vectra 3D. The good news is that these formulas also target fleas, ticks and other harmful bugs.

Keeping your home bug-free

There are additional precautions you can take to keep your home mosquito and bug-free. Inspect all your screens for holes and your doors for cracks to ensure that bugs aren't slipping in. Rid of stagnant water around your home, because mosquitos tend to breed in it.

Many dogs run and play with a ball in a meadow - a pack of Jack Russell Terriers
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In your yard, where your pup is likely spending a lot of time, keep your lawn dry and rid of any stagnant water there as well. If your dog is going near a pond in your yard, consider fencing it off, since mosquitos are probably breeding there. You can also light essential oil candles when you're hanging out in the backyard with your pup, and set mosquito traps around your yard. Before doing any treatment – like spraying your yard for bugs – make sure it's not harmful to your dog.

Taking all these steps will ensure your pup is bug-free and has a wonderful, enjoyable summer.