As a result of rising concerns about the Zika virus, individuals living in or traveling to areas where the Zika virus is found are turning to insect repellants for protection against the Zika-carrying mosquito. But, what about our pets? Are those same insect repellants safe for them?
The Zika virus can be transmitted to humans via infected mosquitoes and, at the suggestion of the CDC, many people in at-risk areas are turning to DEET-containing insect repellants for protection (http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/fs_mosquito_bite_prevention_travelers.pdf). DEET is contained in products such as Off, Deep Woods Off, Sawyer, Ultrathon, and Cutter. Labeled instructions for application should be followed to improve the human safety of DEET-containing products. But, what about the safety of these products for our pets?
DEET-containing insect repellants should NOT be used on cats or dogs because they lick their fur and, overtime, could potentially ingest large amounts of DEET. Pets may also ingest DEET by licking the skin and clothing of humans who have used the product or from environmentally applied DEET. DEET ingestion can result in drooling, wobbly gait, seizures, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
A safer alternative that can be used on people and pets and that is on the CDC list of recommended agents is Oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is available for humans under the tradename Repel. Repel has a very strong odor and may not be appropriate for pets, however pet-safe lemon eucalyptus is available from Daisy Paw.
Current evidence suggests that dogs and cats may contract the Zika virus, but that the virus does not replicate and infect their bodies http://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/139357115231/zika-dengue-pets#.VsIuY_krKUl). Nonetheless, some people use insect repellants on their pets to protect them from a variety of mosquito-borne diseases. If you choose to do so, please avoid DEET-containing agents and, if you use DEET-containing products for yourself or your family, protect your pet from ingesting it.
Our friends at Dogs Naturally, have written an article on natural mosquito repellants for your pet, available at http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/natural-mosquito-repellents/