Porky and Buddy Pet Health – Some Insect-Repelling Products Can Bug Pets

Dear Porky & Buddy,
My dog Maggie loves to go for walks with me when I get home from work, but lately, I have been noticing that the mosquitoes and deer flies have been really pestering her.

I use a product containing DEET to keep them away from me, but is that safe for her too?  It doesn’t say anything about it on the label.

Should I even worry about it?  Will her coat protect her?

Dear Diane,
Well, if you are looking for something to worry about this one is OK.

There is also global warming, but probably not in this column.

So the answer is, yes, it’s a good idea to safeguard her against bites. Mosquitoes can carry disease and infect unprotected dogs with worms.

Deer flies can inflict painful itchy stings anywhere her coat is not very thick.

But, and there is always a but, isn’t there, you need to be careful with the products you choose.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns that the use of insect repellent marketed for people containing DEET can lead to neurological problems in dogs and cats.

In fact, many insect-repelling products available in stores are dangerous for dogs and cats unless specifically marked otherwise.

Pet owners always read a product’s label to determine if the product is approved for use in pets and then carefully follow label instructions for applications.

Products containing DEET should always be avoided.

Citrus oil extracts and some  other essential oils should also be avoided due to the extreme sensitivity of some animals.

If an insect-repelling product does not state on its label that it is safe for use on cats or dogs, do not purchase it for Maggie.

There are products approved for use on dogs (many of them are also used to protect agricultural animals) but some of them  contain organophosphate insecticides (OPs) and carbamates.

The Humane Society of the United States in conjunction with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warns that “there is reason to be concerned about long-term, cumulative exposures as well as combined exposures from the use of other products containing OPs and carbamates.”

In other words, there is a potential risk from the products themselves.

There are also risks involved with pyrethrin-based products, which are very common.

This is obviously something you should talk to your vet about first.

Some natural and herbal products exist to repel mosquitoes from dogs.

For instance, peppermint oil has been found to not only repel mosquitoes but also kill their larvae.

Rubbing a small amount of peppermint oil daily at the back of your dog’s neck – well out of licking reach – may be a safer alternative than using insecticide products.

But again, talk to your vet first about what is safe and effective.

Walks are great for dogs and their humans, but not if you just end up itchy and miserable.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter assistance, information and referral, adoption assistance to pet owners, humane education programs, foster care and adoption  for pets in urgent need, assistance with lost and found pets.

Our administrative offices and spay/neuter clinic are located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.

Check our web site at www.oswegohumane.org or call (315) 207-1070 for more information or to be placed on our mailing list for our newsletter.

Because People & Pets Are Good for Each Other.