The weather has changed and mosquitoes are everywhere. I am a kitten owner and I want to know, do mosquitoes attack animals? kittens/cats/dogs. If yes, is my pet in danger?
Do Mosquitoes Attack Animals?
Is My Pet In Danger?
Yes and no - a common and not so common (location dependent) disease that is transmitted to cats and dogs is heartworm disease. Essentially when mosquitoes take a blood meal they transmit infective stage larvae into your pets bloodstream, after ~6 months they are fully grown adult heartworms. These worms cause damage to the heart and lungs, if killed too fast they can clog the arteries causing death to your pet.
Heartworm disease is more common in dogs than cats, though it is thought that veterinarians are under-diagnosing cats because the testing methods aren't adequate.
How Can I Protect My Pet?
Monthly heartworm prevention during heartworm season (again, location dependent) is your best bet along with testing your pet yearly to every second year for the disease. Discuss with your veterinarian for the ideal product and duration to protect your pet. Some common veterinary approved products are:
- Advantage Multi
Keep your pets indoors during peak mosquito times (dawn and dusk) and have mosquito netting or screens on your windows to prevent them from coming indoors.
While there are certainly mosquito-borne diseases that affect cats (perhaps most notably, as Rebecca has discussed, heartworm disease), a more common problem (or at least a more commonly-recognized problem) is allergies to mosquito bites. While it is usually impossible to tell what caused a hypersensitivity reaction, mosquitos are likely a common culprit as far as insect bites. See Mosquito-bite hypersensitivity for more information and images of a more severe form of allergic reaction to mosquitos. Mosquito bites usually cause focal itchiness, respond well to symptomatic treatment, and are usually not life-threatening except in rare cases.
Rates of mosquito-borne disease will really depend on where in the world you are. Heartworm disease is prevalent in the southern US, gradually spreading northward. While very rare, mosquito-borne diseases like West Nile Virus can cause disease in cats (see Austgen et al., 2004). While mosquito-bitten cats are no doubt commonly infected by viruses such as West Nile, Zika, or Dengue, it seems that in the vast majority of cases cats are not affected clinically.