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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Even Furry Pets Get Mosquito Bites

I received this comment on a recent post about mosquito-borne diseases.  It was from a spammer, so I didn't publish it, but it brings up a very important point that is worth discussing.
My dog is a Pomeranian and he (like most dogs) is covered in a thick coat of fur. He always looks healthy and this fur is probably one of the reasons. Mosquitoes cannot penetrate the thick fur to get to his skin, if we were covered in hair I think it would be the same situation.
Unfortunately this is a misconception that many people have.  They assume that because their pet's body is covered in dense, thick fur a mosquito can't bite them.  And if a mosquito can't bite them, it can't transmit disease such as heartworms.  Sounds like it makes sense, right? 

This idea is absolutely, 100% false!  There is no such thing as fur too dense or skin too thick for a mosquito to get through.  These insects are quite persistent, and will find any area of exposed skin.  If the body fur is extremely dense, they will be happy to go for the face and ears where fur is naturally thinner and the skin more easily reached.  No matter how thick the rest of the coat, it is always at least a little thinner around the muzzle and eyes, regardless of the breed.  It's also not impossible for mosquitoes to burrow through a thick area of the coat.

It really comes down to this....If you live in an area that has mosquitoes your pet can and probably will get bitten.  You need to care for your pet accordingly with good preventative medicine.  First and foremost this is proper and consistent use of heartworm preventative in all dogs, cats, and ferrets (yes, all of these species can be infected), no matter where you live or the condition of their coat.  Since there are a few other diseases besides heartworms that can be carried by these insects, I recommend using a topical flea/tick preventative that also repels mosquitoes (you'll see that on the package label), especially if you live in a high risk area.

Whether your pet is an Alaskan Malamute or a Mexican hairless, they ARE at risk for mosquito bites.  Don't fall into a false sense of security that might result in your pet contracting a serious or fatal disease.