Insect repellents for dogs?
May 30, 2012 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Help me keep the bugs off of my dog when camping!

I'm taking my dog camping very soon. She's been along for many trips before, and she likes it, except that the mosquitoes and biting flies of northern Minnesota love to give her hell. It always kills me to see her sitting at the campsite with a cloud of mosquitoes buzzing around her face, and it's even worse to see her muzzle get all bumpy from mosquito bites.

Are there any good insect repellents for dogs? I certainly don't want to douse her in DEET.
posted by COBRA! to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You need a vet
posted by Flood at 8:37 AM on May 30, 2012

Check with your vet, but we've had luck with lemon eucalyptus based sprays for humans and tiny people. Smells strong but not deet or picardin based.
posted by iamabot at 8:39 AM on May 30, 2012

I've used this to keep flys away from sores. It worked great for that.

It uses pyrythrem (I've so spelt that wrong) not Deet so is pretty safe as these things go. Put thin layer on your hand and then rub it lightly over the fur, should work with your dog like that if you keep it away from his mouth and eyes.
posted by wwax at 8:44 AM on May 30, 2012

I have been using Burts Bees bug repellant. It's just eucalyptus oil, lemongrass oil, and soybean oil. I put it on top of her head where she won't be likely to ingest it. It seems to be working ok. (except for the flies. They just don't care about anything.)
posted by Vaike at 8:50 AM on May 30, 2012

I had the same issue camping with my dog, including the bumpy, itchy muzzle. I bought him a hunter orange vest and would spray DEET on the vest when the bugs got bad. The vest also made him look less like a wolf, which was a concern where I lived because there was a hunting season for wolves (Minnesota is implementing a wolf hunting season this fall/winter). Plus when I let him run free in the woods I could spot him from much further away. He loved the vest because he knew it meant we were going for a hike. It was a bit difficult to find a vest for such a big dog (he was a 110 pound malamute) since most hunting dogs are quite a bit smaller. The brand I purchased was Ugly Dog. I probably still have the vest and sadly not the dog, so I would be happy to send it to you if you think you could make use of it.
posted by tr0ubley at 8:57 AM on May 30, 2012

What I've found that works best for the biting flies and mosquitos is to rake the beach of any decaying matter (that's where the buggers hatch and swarm!). We get those nasty biting flies at our western Ontario (N of N MN) cabin.

But if you are camping and it's not on/near a beach, can you try that garlic mosquito repellent stuff? (example from a quick google) My sister-in-law uses something like that on her lawn (in central MN) and it kept the mosquitos and tiny biters away. I don't know if there are any regulations on bringing that with and putting it down at your campsite, though.
posted by jillithd at 8:59 AM on May 30, 2012

For mosquitoes, the widely accepted answer is Skin So Soft.

For other things that bite (fleas/ticks), the over-the-counter collars and sprays are probably your best answer, even if they contain chemicals that don't sit well with you.

Your vet might have a much better idea, definitely give a call.
posted by Citrus at 9:05 AM on May 30, 2012

Horse owners use fly sheets - essentially a lighweight or mesh blanket for the horse than keeps horse flys from getting to them. I didn't see much on a quick google but somebody has got to be making them for dogs. If not, maybe somebody shold start as it seems like there is a market there.
posted by COD at 9:18 AM on May 30, 2012

Frontline II takes care of ticks as well as fleas. We use it on my dog for camping/hiking trips. Less certain on the mosquitoes/biting flies, other than spraying them with insect repellant.
posted by zug at 9:35 AM on May 30, 2012

Costco's own-brand flea and tick killer (Kirkland Signature) claims to also repel mosquitoes.
posted by KathrynT at 9:37 AM on May 30, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, all. And thanks for the vest offer, tr0ubley; I don't think it'd fit, though, since it sounds like my dog's about 40 lbs lighter.
posted by COBRA! at 10:38 AM on May 30, 2012

If you think an orange vest is the way to go, I recommend this one from Ruffwear. My 24-pound dog has it and it definitely adds to my peace of mind when we're bombing around the backcountry during hunting season. I've sprayed it with Ultrathon and she hasn't had any mosquito problems. We use Frontline Plus for flea and tick control.

Flies aren't much of a problem here (ask me about the everloving gnats sometime, though!) so I don't have anything helpful there.
posted by workerant at 11:13 AM on May 30, 2012

We wash our dog in water only, then rub a couple of handfuls of tea tree oil into his still wet hair. Insects do not like the smell, and it has the added bonus of being good for his hair and skin.
posted by Wantok at 4:26 PM on May 30, 2012

Response by poster: For posterity: as many people suggested, I called my vet and asked them; their suggestion was to get Deep Woods OFF in lotion form and rub the lotion into the ends of my dog's ears. This sounds a little nuts to me, but I'm not a vet so I'll give it a shot this weekend and record the results back here.
posted by COBRA! at 3:52 PM on June 20, 2012

Response by poster: And the results, for posterity: unable to get Deep Woods OFF in lotion form, I just used my pump-spray bottle to spray a bunch on my fingers, which I then wiped on the tips of my dogs ears and on the spot between her shoulderblades where I apply her Frontline. To my surprise, it seemed to work really well! The mosquitoes were really thick, but they pretty well stayed off the dog.
posted by COBRA! at 12:57 PM on June 29, 2012

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