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 gnat repellent for dogs to keep pets safe from infection, allergic reaction, and skin irritation.
Shoo the gnat
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.
Other non-biting gnats can be a nuisance to your dog, causing irritation as they try to get moisture from her eyes, nose, or ears. 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.
Don't entice gnats
Gnats are fond of 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. Indoors, you might find some emerging from potted plants in your home during the warmer months of the year. They'll also reproduce in the drains of your shower and sinks.
Rotting plants and vegetables can bring in hordes of 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 enthralled with 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 lure the 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 drawn to carbon dioxide, which your dog naturally produces. This isn't anything that you can help or change—but you can deter the pests with a gnat spray for dogs made from natural ingredients such as vinegar and water. 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 harbor 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 lure 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. Keep air moving with fans to prevent the little pests from congregating.
Make Gnat Repellent Spray
Using essential oils that are natural repellents can help dissuade pests from entering your pet's living area. Add a few drops to water in a spray bottle and spritz door posts or other areas your dog does not come in direct contact with.
Some essential oils that repel flying insects include:
- Lemon eucalyptus
Put the essential oil on a cotton ball out of your pet's reach. Do not apply essential oils to your pet directly, as they are toxic to dogs and cats. Even a small amount of essential oil on your dog's skin can make her very sick, according to VCA Hospitals.
If you are using essential oils around your pet, call your vet immediately if your animal starts to exhibits any of these signs:
- weakness, lethargy or uncoordinated walking
- difficulty breathing
- pawing at eyes or mouth
- muscle tremors
- redness of the mucous membranes
- Orkin: Get Rid of Gnats
- Institute of Feed and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida: Black Flies
- Entomology Department at Perdue University: Biting Midges
- 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
- VCA Hospitals: Essential Oil and Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs