Perhaps the most hated insects in the world, mosquitos aren’t just a problem for you – they can also annoy your dog.
Even worse, mosquitos also transmit diseases to your pooch.
But what can you do to keep the ‘lil blood-sucking bastards away from your pet? What kind of mosquito repellent can you use on your dog?
We’ve got just the answer.
Below, we’ll share a few of the best (and safest) mosquito repellents for dogs. We’ll also explain a few of the diseases that mosquitos can transmit, and point out a few of the products you should never use on your dog.
Quick Picks: The Best Mosquito Repellents for Dogs
- K9 Advantix II [Best All-Around Mosquito Repellent for Dogs]: A once-a-month, spot-on treatment that kills and repels mosquitos, as well as fleas and ticks, leaving your pooch happy, healthy, and pest-free.
- ShieldTec Plus [Best Budget-Priced Mosquito Repellent for Dogs]: Another spot-on treatment that’ll also protect your dog from fleas, ticks, and mosquitos, but this one is more affordably priced than K9 Advantix II.
- Wondercide Flea, Tick, & Mosquito Spray [Best Natural Mosquito Repellent for Dogs]: A good choice for owners who’re willing to trade some efficacy for the chance to use an all-natural mosquito repellent.
The Best Mosquito Repellents for Dogs: Five Safe & Effective Options
We’ll dive into the details of dog mosquito repellents and explain which active ingredients are safe for dogs in a minute. But for now, let’s just jump in and share a few of the best mosquito repellents for dogs below.
1. K9 Advantix II
K9 Advantix II is one of the leading flea and tick prevention products on the market, but it is also a great mosquito repellent. This gives you the chance to protect your pooch from a variety of blood-sucking parasites via a single, easy-to-use product.
K9 Advantix II
A popular, classic topical bug repellent for dogs
An effective way to protect your dog from mosquitos, fleas, and ticks, and made by one of the world’s most trusted manufacturers.
- Imidacloprid, permethrin, and pyriproxyfen are the active ingredients
- Simple, spot-on administration
- Effective after 12 hours; works for up to 30 days
- Becomes waterproof 24 hours after application
- Safe for dogs and puppies over 7 weeks of age
- Made in the USA
- Cordura la
- Travel bag is included with the bed
- Water-resistant fabric and a rust-proof frame make it great for outdoor use
- 26-pound capacity means this bed is only suitable for pretty small pups
- A few owners have noted that the frame is not very stable
2. ShieldTec Plus
In many ways, ShieldTec Plus is simply a more affordable version of K9 Advantix II. It utilizes two of the same active ingredients, it is also effective for up to 30 days, and it is just as easy to apply. It hasn’t earned quite as many positive user reviews as K9 Advantix II, but it is significantly cheaper.
- Active ingredients include permethrin and pyriproxyfen
- Easy to apply and waterproof
- Lasts up to 30 days
- In addition to repelling mosquitos, it kills fleas, lice, and several types of ticks
- Safe for puppies (though no minimum age is indicated)
- Made in the USA
- More affordable alternative to K9 Advantix II
- Provides protection from mosquitos, fleas, lice, and several types of ticks
- Specifically designed for outdoor dogs
- Based on user reviews, it does not seem quite as effective as some other options
- You must buy at least four doses at a time
3. Absorbine UltraShield EX
Absorbine UltraShield EX is a spray-on product that contains a fairly conventional cocktail of insecticides to kill and repel mosquitos. You can simply spray this on your dog’s coat, but it will provide extra protection if you also apply it to your dog’s house.
Absorbine UltraShield EX
Spray-on repellent for a dog’s coat
A conventional, canine-safe, spray-on mosquito repellent that’s easy to use, weatherproof, and effective.
- Contains three active ingredients: permethrin, pyrethrins, and piperonyl butoxide
- Kills more than 70 species of mosquitos, flies, gnats, and ticks
- Also contains sunscreen and coat conditioner
- Weatherproof and provides up to 17 days or protection
- Ready to use — no mixing required
- Made in the USA
- Spray-on alternative that uses some of the same active ingredients that spot-on treatments do
- Can also be used on your dog’s house or other items
- Weatherproof formula lasts longer than many alternative products
- A little more expensive than some more affordable alternatives
- Most reviews were very positive, but a few owners complained that it did not work as long as advertised
4. Wondercide Flea, Tick, & Mosquito Spray
Wondercide’s Flea, Tick, and Mosquito Spray is an all-natural option for protecting Spot from skeeters. Made with two different bug-repelling ingredients, this spray-on product comes in your choice of four different scents.
Wondercide Flea, Tick, & Mosquito Spray
An all-natural bug spray for pets and the home
An all-natural, plant-based product you can spray on your dog as well as around the house to protect him from biting bugs.
- Contains both cedarwood oil and lemongrass oil
- Comes in your choice of 4 different scents
- Can be used to treat your actual dog, as well as his bedding and your home
- Also effective against fleas and several other biting bugs
- One bottle reportedly lasts 4 to 6 weeks
- Made in the USA
- Great for owners who prefer using all-natural products
- Most of the scents received positive reviews
- Can be used on your dog as well as around the house
- Didn’t appear to work for all dogs and owners
- A bit more expensive than you may expect
5. Vet’s Best Mosquito Repellent
Vet’s Best Mosquito Repellent is another all-natural product, but it is much more affordable than Wondercide (seriously — this stuff is crazy cheap). It also contains lemongrass oil and geraniol oil, rather than lemongrass oil and cedar oil, as Wondercide does.
Vet’s Best Mosquito Repellent
Plant-based mosquito repellent
All-natural, made in the USA, and effective, this reasonably priced mosquito repellent is perfect for cost-conscious owners.
- Plant-based, DEET-free formula
- Made with certified natural essential oils
- Pleasant, lemongrass scent
- Safe for use on dogs and cats over 12 weeks of age
- Can be reapplied as often as every 2 hours
- Made in the USA
- Effective, all-natural mosquito-repelling option
- One of the few products available that specifically targets mosquitos
- You can also use it! It’s safe for humans over 2 years of age
- Incredibly affordable
- There were a few minor complaints about the bottle’s sprayer — may only work in the upright position
- Some owners only found it mildly effective
Two Mosquito Repellents You Should NEVER Use on Your Dog
Now that we’ve identified a few of the very best mosquito repellents for dogs, it is time to discuss a few that you should never use on your pet. We’ll explain the problem with both below!
1. DEET-Based Mosquito Repellents
We’ll explain more about the problem with DEET and dogs below, but for now, just know that you should never use products containing DEET on or around your dog (this also means that you don’t want to let your dog lick you after applying a DEET spray to your skin).
Simply put, DEET can make dogs very sick.
2. Mosquito Repellents That Aren’t Specifically Labelled for Dog Use
Grab the can of mosquito repellent you use on yourself, turn it around, and read the back label. As is the case with all pesticides, you’ll see a big warning stating:
It is a violation of Federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.
And this includes using a product not specifically designed for canine use on your dog. We wouldn’t expect a SWAT team to kick in your door and drag you off to jail for doing so, but as the EPA explains:
the label is the law
Legalities aside, this language exists for a reason, and dog owners are wise to avoid running afoul of this particular regulation. Besides, if you love your pet, you wouldn’t want to use a product that may sicken him anyway.
Just make sure you stick to mosquito repellents that are specifically labeled as appropriate for canine or dog use.
Mosquito Repellents for Dogs: Which Ones Are Safe and Which Ones Are Dangerous?
There are a variety of different mosquito repellents on the market, which are made with a variety of different active ingredients.
Most of the ones marketed for human use are well-studied and safe for two-footers, but your doggo is a different story: Many mosquito repellents designed for people are dangerous for pets.
And this doesn’t only include the ones with weird-sounding chemical names, either – some “natural” mosquito repellents may also sicken your pet.
Contrary to popular thought, “natural” does not mean “harmless.” Plenty of all-natural substances are deadly (for people and pets).
So, we’ll try to help you understand the kinds of mosquito repellents that are safe for dogs as well as the mosquito sprays that are dangerous for canines below.
1. Permethrin: Safe and Effective for Most Dogs
Permethrin is used in a variety of flea and tick treatments for dogs, and it’s largely considered safe when used as directed. But it should not be used around cats, and it is also important to select the appropriate strength for your pet’s body weight.
It is worth pointing out that most permethrin-based products designed for human use come with instructions that warn against spraying the compound on your skin (permethrin-based products for humans are intended for treating clothing).
That said, there are permethrin-based sprays that can safely be sprayed right on your doggo (like Absorbine UltraShield EX, discussed above).
Permethrin-based products are known to be very effective at killing fleas and ticks, but they have also been found to repel mosquitos.
In addition to spray-on products, many spot-on medications also contain permethrin (such as K9 Advantix II, also discussed above).
2. Cedarwood Oil: Likely Safe for Dogs; Discuss It with Your Vet First
“Cedarwood oil” is a term that describes the essential oil of several different conifer species. This includes a variety of specific species, ranging from “true” cedars (Cedrus spp.) to junipers (Juniperus spp.) and western red cedars (Thuja plicata), among others.
Now, some cedar-derived oils appear safe for dogs – at least according to some sources.
For example, the manufacturer of Wondercide — a popular cedarwood-oil-based mosquito repellent – plainly states that cedarwood oil is safe for dogs. But they don’t back this assertion with an unbiased source.
Amy Holloway with Client Hills Vets lists cedarwood atlas essential oil is safe for dogs (though she cautions that it shouldn’t be ingested). However, their language is a bit puzzling – the tree is typically called the atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica). So, we’d stop short of expressing full confidence in this source. Also, Holloway’s comments are primarily directed at the use of cedarwood oil in aromatherapy contexts.
More reassuringly, cedarwood oil alcohols and terpenes are approved for use in human foods by the FDA.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe for dogs. After all, chocolate, grapes, and garlic are commonly used in human foods, but they’re dangerous for dogs. Additionally, some cedar-based products (primarily the shavings used in small animal cages) appear to be associated with an increased risk of cancer in rodents and rabbits.
Ultimately, it appears that cedarwood oil is probably safe for dogs (when used as a mosquito repellent), and a lot of owners have found products containing it to work well for dogs.
Accordingly, we’re comfortable enough with it to include a cedarwood-oil-based repellent among our recommendations, but we’d recommend that owners speak with their vet before using it.
3. DEET: Definitely Not Safe for Dogs
DEET is one of the most effective and widely used mosquito repellents, and it is largely considered safe for humans when used properly. But it is not considered safe for dogs.
The symptoms caused by DEET exposure in dogs vary depending on a variety of factors, including the concentration of the product, the nature of the exposure (incidental inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion), and the individual idiosyncrasies of your dog’s biology.
At the mild end of the spectrum, dogs may only suffer symptoms like excessive drooling, digestive upset, or irritated eyes, but at the scary end of the spectrum, significant exposure can cause discoordination, seizures, or even death.
Simply put: Don’t use DEET around your dog.
3. Picaridin: May Be Safe, but Unavailable for Dog Use
Picaridin is another one of the CDC’s recommended mosquito repellents, and like DEET, it is largely considered safe and effective. Some people seem to experience less skin irritation after using it (compared to DEET), so it is the preferred choice among some percentage of the human population.
But because Picaridin is somewhat newer than DEET (it was developed in the 1980s, while DEET is a WWII-era product), there isn’t as much information available concerning its safety in dogs.
Dr. Jason Nicholas with Preventative Vet explains that picaridin:
“appears to have a wide margin of safety when used on dogs”
However, he adds an important caveat:
“there are no products specifically licensed for use on dogs that I am currently aware of.”
So, to avoid making your pet a picaridin guinea pig, it’s best to just steer clear of this repellent for your pooch.
4. IR 3535: May Be Safe, but Unavailable for Dog Use
Frankly, we think the marketing department at Merck missed the mark when naming this mosquito repellent; it just sounds scary to many people. But IR 3535 does roll off the tongue better than the repellent’s real name: Ethyl N-acetyl-N-butyl-ß-alaninate.
Nevertheless, this product is another one of the CDC’s recommended mosquito repellents for people, and it enjoys a wonderful safety record in humans – it rarely appears to cause anything more serious than skin or eye irritation (and even these symptoms appear rare).
For that matter, the EPA states in part that: “the Agency believes there is reliable data to support the conclusion that IR3535 is practically non-toxic to mammals”.
That all makes it sound pretty promising for pups. But here’s the problem: There are no mosquito repellents made with IR 3535 that are marketed and labelled for use in pets.
And because it is a federal offense to use mosquito repellents in a manner other than the way they’re intended, IR 3535 just isn’t a good mosquito repellent to use for your dog.
5. Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus: May Be Safe, but Unavailable for Dog Use
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora) – also known as OLE — is another one of the natural repellents recommended by the CDC for human use. They do, however, recommend sticking to formulas specifically designed to repel mosquitos rather than pure essential oils derived from the plant, as the two have some differences.
But unfortunately, it is not yet clear whether it is safe to use for dogs. Eventually, empirical studies may demonstrate that it is, in fact, safe for our canines, but we just don’t know that yet. And despite the litany of voices explaining that it is “natural,” and therefore harmless, this is simply not the case – plenty of natural substances are dangerous for dogs.
Additionally, we cannot find any OLE-based mosquito repellents that are specifically labelled for use in dogs, which means it would technically be illegal to use them in such fashion.
So, while OLE certainly holds promise, it’s not yet an appropriate mosquito repellent for dogs.
6. Ultrasonic Devices: Safe, but Ineffective
Ultrasonic devices are an entirely different type of mosquito repellent: They produce very high-pitched sounds to keep bloodsuckers at bay.
The sounds are above the range of human hearing, so they’ll seem silent to you. But your dog can and will hear them, though they won’t cause him any harm unless they’re oddly loud. They may spook nervous dogs, but most will eventually learn to ignore them.
So, in theory, ultrasonic mosquito repellents sound like a win. The problem is that they just don’t work. As explained by Stacey Rodriguez, lab manager at the New Mexico State University Hansen Lab, in an interview with NPR:
“The sonic device we tested had no effect,” says Hansen. “We’ve tested others before, too. None of them work. There’s no scientific evidence that mosquitoes are repelled by sound.
So, feel free to use an ultrasonic mosquito repellent around your dog if you like (as long as it doesn’t freak him out too much). But it’s pretty much throwing money down the drain.
7. Citronella: Unclear Safety and Efficacy
Citronella is a familiar chemical to many, and it is often marketed as a mosquito repellent. But digging into this plant-derived compound really cracks open a whole can of worms.
For starters, there’s the safety issue. In addition to candles, sprays, and other products designed for human use, citronella is commonly used in bark-deterrent collars and some other dog-oriented applications.
Bad reactions and reports of illness among dogs exposed to citronella via these products appear rare, but the ASPCA does categorize citronella as toxic for dogs.
Citronella is also one of the most commonly confused chemicals around. Despite its “citrusy” sounding name, citronella isn’t related to citrus plants – it is actually derived from a couple of lemongrass plants (genus Cymbopogon).
But all of that aside, it isn’t even clear that citronella effectively repels mosquitos. In fact, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Insect Science pretty thoroughly demonstrated that citronella candles have no effect on the bloodsuckers. Some tests of citronella-impregnated bands yielded similar results.
Again, quoting Rodriguez:
“I’ve had mosquitoes land right on the bracelet that I was testing.”
That said, a 2007 study found that citronella-impregnated bands were effective at repelling some mosquitoes, so the evidence is mixed at best.
Taking all of this into consideration, it becomes apparent that – until more and better information is available – citronella should only be used for your dog with extreme caution and your vet’s approval.
Picking a Mosquito Repellent for Your Dog
Ultimately, you ended up on this page because you just want to help protect your bestie from biting mosquitos. So, while we obviously wanted to include plenty of in-depth info for curious readers, we’ll try to boil things down as much as possible here.
Look for the following things when picking a mosquito repellent for your dog:
- It’s made with dog-safe ingredients. Obviously, you don’t want to use a mosquito repellent that’ll sicken or injure your dog. Unfortunately, because the safety of some of the most common mosquito repellents for dogs is not 100% known, there is only one type of repellent (permethrin-based repellents) that we know is usually safe.
- It is labelled for use in dogs. This is not only important for legal reasons, sticking to products labelled specifically for use in dogs will also help you avoid products that aren’t safe for four-footers.
- It is effective. Because there is some risk involved with the use of any bug repellent (even those known to largely be safe), you don’t want to put your dog at risk unless he’s actually going to enjoy the mosquito protection you want.
- It’s made in the USA (or another western country). Broadly speaking, products made in the USA and other western countries (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of the European Union) are subjected to stricter quality-control and safety standards than those made elsewhere. So, by sticking to products made in these countries, you can avoid a number of potential risks.
- It doesn’t irritate your dog. You won’t know this until you try a given mosquito repellent out on your pooch, but make sure to stop using any that causes your dog to suffer side effects. This could include anything from minor skin irritation or excessive sneezing to more troubling symptoms, such as seizures. Always discontinue the use of any product that causes irritation and discuss other options with your vet.
- It is appropriate for your dog’s activity and lifestyle. Consider the way your dog spends time outdoors when picking a mosquito repellent. If your pooch is only outside for brief walks or romps in the backyard, a spray-on product may suffice. However, if your dog swims a lot or is outdoors in inclement weather, a long-lasting topical spot-on product like Frontline Plus may be the better choice.
- It is acceptable according to your vet. As when picking any dog-care product involving insecticides, medications, or supplements, you’ll want to run your selection by your vet and ensure that he or she thinks that it is safe for your pooch.
The Importance of Mosquito Control for Dogs
We’re guessing that you already know how annoying mosquitos are, and that you can imagine that they’re similarly infuriating for your dog. So, we’ll skip past the fact that they just bother your pet and that’s enough reason to seek a safe and effective mosquito repellent for your dog.
But more importantly, mosquitos can transmit diseases to your dog. We’ll discuss a few of the most notable ones below:
The most concerning ailment mosquitos can transmit to dogs, heartworm infestations start when an infected mosquito bites your dog. This allows the heartworm larvae to enter your dog’s bloodstream, where they’ll mature over the following weeks or months.
Eventually, the worms mature, move into your dog’s heart and start causing disruptions to the heart, as well as symptoms like coughing, lethargy, and anemia. Without effective treatment, death is often the final outcome.
But even treatment is no guarantee of a happy ending, as there is considerable risk in trying to kill the larvae in your dog’s body. As the worms die, their bodies can be pumped to other parts of your dog’s body, where they can cause serious complications that may also result in death.
Accordingly, it is much wiser to prevent heartworm disease than to treat it. This is why most veterinarians recommend that dogs take preventative heartworm medications. However, mosquito repellents can offer supplemental protection against heartworm disease, and they are also valuable for dogs who don’t receive preventative meds.
West Nile Virus
This mosquito-borne disease primarily affects birds, but it can affect people and puppers too. Fortunately, cases in dogs appear relatively rare.
West Nile virus has a simpler life cycle than heartworm disease, and it often fails to trigger any visible signs. Nevertheless, it can cause troubling neurological symptoms in some dogs – particularly immunocompromised individuals, puppies, or seniors.
Some of the most common symptoms caused by the virus include tremors, discoordination, seizures, and appetite disturbances. Muscle weakness, fever, depression, and paralysis may also occur in some cases. There’s no specific treatment for West Nile virus in dogs, but fortunately, most dogs eventually fight off the disease naturally.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
A disease that causes brain inflammation, eastern equine encephalitis is primarily a disease of horses and other hooved animals. However, it has been known to affect canines too (particularly in the southeastern United States).
Affected animals will often exhibit symptoms typical of most types of encephalitis, including weakness, uncoordinated movements, “circling” behavior, fever, depression, and loss of appetite. The severity of the disease varies from one dog to the next, but it can prove fatal in some cases.
There is no specific treatment for eastern equine encephalitis, but with supportive care, many otherwise-healthy dogs will ultimately recover.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease caused by Francisella tularensis. It is often transmitted via contact with infected rabbits or rodents, but it can also be transmitted from the bites of mosquitos and other biting bugs.
On the plus side, tularemia infections are somewhat rare, and the disease is often pretty mild in dogs. However, it can be serious in some cases, and it is often tricky to diagnose, which results in a delay of treatment.
Unfortunately, tularemia is also a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transmitted to people. And while there are antibiotics to treat it, the disease is still considered a serious health hazard. As such, it is classified as a reportable disease among medical and veterinary professionals.
Other Ways to Protect Your Dog from Mosquitos
Hopefully by now, you understand the importance of helping your doggo avoid skeeters and their itchy bites. Not only are the insects maddening, but they can transmit serious diseases to your pet.
But in addition to using an effective and safe dog mosquito repellent (and a heartworm preventative, if your vet recommends one), you can take a few other steps to provide additional protection. None are completely effective, but when used as part of an overall bite-reduction strategy, they can be quite helpful.
- Don’t unnecessarily leave your dog outdoors for long periods of time. You obviously have to walk Spot a few times each day and give him the chance to run, jump, and play outdoors – this kind of mental and physical stimulation is vital for his quality of life. However, this does not mean you should simply leave him out in the backyard all day, suffering countless needless bites.
- Avoid spending time in low-lying, wet areas. Mosquitos often hang out around bodies of water (this is where they lay their eggs, after all), especially when they’re shielded from strong sun and wind. You’ll just encounter fewer biting bugs if you stick to dry, sunny, windy places whenever possible.
- Eliminate mosquito breeding grounds in your yard. Kiddie swimming pools, fountains, old tires, and a million other things can hold water and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos, so you’ll want to empty any that you can. For those that you can’t empty, consider adding Mosquito Dunks to the water – they’re completely safe for dogs, yet kill any larvae wiggling around in the water.
Protecting your pooch from mosquito bites is not only just a kind thing to do, but it is also important for your pet’s health. Just be sure to select a mosquito repellent that is safe and effective for your dog, so that you know he’ll be protected and safe.
Have you used any of the dog mosquito repellents discussed above? We’d love to hear about your experiences! Let us know how well they worked and any other interesting tidbits you’d like to share in the comments below!