The best way to get rid of gnats around your dog and yard is to find what is causing the gnats to gather. Remove that source, and use a natural repellent to keep gnats away and keep your dog and other pets safe from infection, allergic reaction and skin irritation.
Gnats are a family of small, winged insects; they include insect species like fruit flies, black flies, midges and sewer flies. Some gnats, like midges, sand flies and black flies, bite and draw blood to feed on. These are the gnats you want to be leery of, since they can transmit diseases and secondary infections from the bite. One or two gnats flying around your dog aren't a major concern, but a hoard of them is. If you witness gnats flying around your dog, it's time to figure out what's causing them to swarm and stop them.
What Attracts Gnats?
Gnats are attracted to warm, moist places. They use shallow bodies of water as breeding grounds and sources of food. So, if you have an old bucket with water, an active drain pipe or over-watered potted plants, you may see a surplus of gnats.
Rotting plants and vegetables can attract gnats, so check your vegetable garden, potted plants and other plants in your yard for dead or rotting parts. Block your dog from your garden and compost pile. Dogs are prone to rolling in smelly things, so if he's covered in the smell of compost, gnats will naturally be attracted to him.
Mold and fungi also attract gnats, so scour the yard for any mold or fungal growth, especially around the fascia boards, siding and any other outdoor wood on or around your house, shed or other outbuildings. Also, rake old mulch around to allow moldy areas to dry out.
Bright lights will also attract gnats, which is why you may see more gnats flying around at night. Replace your bright white lights with a sodium light bulb to see if this helps reduce the gnats.
And, like mosquitoes, gnats are attracted to carbon dioxide, which your dog naturally produces. This isn't anything that you can help or change-- but you can spray your dog with a natural gnat and bug repellent. When you're outside, light a candle; the fire will become another source of carbon dioxide to distract gnats from your dog.
Natural Gnat Repellents
Once you've checked your yard and corrected any areas that may attract gnats, put preventive measures in place to repel gnats.
On porches and decks, place a mason jar filled with wine or apple cider vinegar and a little dish soap. The wine or vinegar will attract the gnats, and the soap will suck them in to drown them. Place the jar somewhere your dog cannot reach. This works well if you're going to spend time outside, but it's not always a permanent answer for a dog who's outside all the time.
If you have a garden or compost pile, added beneficial nematodes like Steinernema carpocapsae or Steinernema feltiae to the soil for long-term control of gnat larvae.
Vanilla extract can repel gnats, so add a little to your dog's collar and reapply as needed to keep gnats away.
Make Gnat Repellent Spray
In a spray bottle, mix 2 tablespoons of witch hazel, 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, jajoba oil, almond oil or neem oil, a half-teaspoon of vodka, and 100 to 110 drops of essential oils.
Essential oils that are natural repellents: Castor Cedarwood Cinnamon Citronella Clove Geranium Lavender Lemon eucalyptus Lemongrass Peppermint * Rosemary
Lemon eucalyptus essential oil is a great alternative to many commercially available bug sprays.
Spray the solution anywhere gnats exist, including on your dog's coat. Avoid spraying his face.
- Orkin: Get Rid of Gnats
- Entomology Department at Perdue University: Biting Midges
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries: Hemorrhagic Disease
- The Merck Manual: Flies and Mosquitoes of Dogs
- Today's Homeowner: How to Control Gnats Outdoors
- Home Institute: Getting Rid of Gnats
- All Mosquitoes: Natural Mosquito Repellent
- DIY Natural: Natural Homemade Insect/Bug Repellent Spray